United States rail carload and intermodal volumes, for the month of August, were mixed, according to data issued this week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Rail carloads—at 1,189,892—saw a 2.3%, or 27,040 carloads, annual increase. AAR said that 11 of the 20 carload commodity groups it tracks saw annual gains, including: coal, up 17,468 carloads or 5.2%; grain, up 12,594 carloads or 14.1%; and crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 7,327 carloads or 7.1%. Commodities posting annual declines included: primary metal products, down 6,711 carloads or 14.1%; all other carloads, down 4,914 carloads or 15.9%; and petroleum & petroleum products, down 3,410 carloads or 6.6%.
When excluding coal, August U.S. carloads increased by 1.2%, or 9,572 carloads, annually, and when excluding coal and grain, they were off 3,022 carloads, or 0.4%.
Intermodal containers and trailers—at 1,335,618, were down 1.2%, or 15,856 units, in August. And combined U.S. rail carload and intermodal units—at 2,525,510—eked out a 0.4%, or 11,184 carloads and intermodal units, annual gain.
“Things can change quickly, but there are reasons to believe the economy is on track to stimulate continued improvements in rail volumes,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “To be sure, some traffic categories are doing better than others, just like some sectors of the economy are doing better than others. Through additional hiring and continued investments, railroads are preparing themselves for growth.”
For the week ending September 3, U.S. rail carloads were up 5.7% annually, to 241,431, and intermodal units rose 2.1% annually, to 271,656 units.
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