AAR: Rail traffic up in December

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Association of American Railroads
Association of American Railroads
WASHINGTON — Carload traffic was up 2.8 percent in December 2016 over the same month the previous year while container traffic was up 11.2 percent, but it was still not enough to make up for what was a disappointing year for freight railroads.

On Wednesday, the Association of American Railroads announced that 13 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR showed carload gains when compared with December 2015, including coal, which has been one of the worst performers all year. Coal was up 4.2 percent, or about 13,360 carloads last month when compared to the previous December. Grain was up 10.5 percent and chemicals were up 3.9 percent. Petroleum, crushed stone, and miscellaneous carloads, however, were all down last month when compared to December 2015.

Total carload traffic for 2016 was 13 million carloads, down 8.2 percent from 2015.

"Last year was challenging for freight railroads," says AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "Rail carloads were down for the second consecutive year, due mainly to a weak manufacturing economy and turmoil in energy markets, while intermodal failed to set its fourth straight annual record. That said, there are signs that the economy may be gradually returning to a period of growth."

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