AAR: August was the best month in history for intermodal traffic

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A BNSF Railway intermodal train heads for Los Angeles from Chicago as it passes through the Mojave Desert near Amboy, Calif., at sunrise.
Chase Gunnoe
WASHINGTON — Railroads moved more intermodal containers than ever before according to an August rail traffic report compiled by the Association of American Railroads.

In the month of August, U.S. railroads handled more than 1.4 million containers and trailers, up 5.6 percent, or 73,790 units from the same month in 2016. According to the AAR, it is the best month in history for intermodal traffic.

Freight carload traffic posted marginal gains in certain categories, but when calculating all 20 commodity groups recognized by the AAR, freight carload traffic was down about 0.3 percent for the month.

In August, seven of the 20 commodity groups posted gains. These included: coal, up 25,926 carloads or 5.8 percent; crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 14,506 carloads or 12.1 percent; and metallic ores, up 4,550 carloads or 16.1 percent.

Other commodities saw declines in August, including grain, down 24,565 carloads or 20.4 percent; motor vehicles & parts, down 10,321 carloads or 11.2 percent; and petroleum & petroleum products, down 8,362 carloads or 15.8 percent.

AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray says rail traffic was a mixed bag last month, with gains in coal and sand offset by a decline in grain, autos, and crude oil.

Gray did mention Hurricane Harvey’s affect on rail operations, too.

“Unfortunately, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes are a fact of life, and railroads have long experience dealing with them and their aftermath,” Gray says.

So far this year, freight carload intermodal traffic is outperforming 2016’s numbers by 4 percent. Through the end of August, railroads have handled more than 18.4 million carloads and intermodal units in 2017.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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