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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: U.S. rail traffic registered slight dip in February

In February, U.S. railroads moved a combined total of 2,018,606 carloads and intermodal loads, down 3.6 percent, compared with February 2014's total, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR, 11 posted year-over-year gains. Among them: metallic ores at 21.9 percent, grain at 10.9 percent, and crushed stone, gravel and sand at 6.5 percent. But iron and steel scrap loads tumbled 23.1 percent, primary metal products traffic declined 7.3 percent and coal carloads fell 4.9 percent.

"The problems at West Coast ports clearly had an impact on rail traffic in February. Bad weather in the East and Midwest didn't help," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a statement. "It's not possible to quantify the impact of these factors precisely.  However, economic fundamentals remain mostly positive, so railroads are expecting significant traffic improvements in March."

For the week ending on Feb. 28, U.S. railroads carried a total of 508,658 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.7 percent compared with the same week in 2014. U.S. railroads carried 267,060 carloads, down 7 percent, and 241,598 intermodal units, down 6.3 percent compared.

With 1,072,215 carloads, containers and trailers logged, Canadian railroads registered an 8.8 percent increase in weekly traffic volume. Mexican railroads' weekly traffic came in at 213,543 overall units, representing a 2.3 percent increase from the same 2014 period.

Overall North American rail volume for the fourth week of February totaled 5,470,264 carloads and intermodal units, a 1.6 percent increase year over year.

The AAR also reported that U.S. Class Is originated 131,071 carloads of crude oil in fourth-quarter 2014, down 0.9 percent versus the third quarter. For all of 2014, they originated a preliminary total of 493,126 crude carloads, up 20.9 percent compared with 2013. Crude oil last year accounted for 1.6 percent of total Class I carloads.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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