The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that monthly carloads in June increased 0.9 percent compared with June 2010, for a total of 1,428,580 carloads. For the first six months of 2011, total carloads were up 2.7 percent over the first six months of 2010.
According to AAR’s monthly Rail Time Indicators report, intermodal traffic in June increased 4.6 percent, for a total of 1,152,432 trailers and containers compared with June 2010. Though positive, June’s intermodal traffic growth marked the lowest monthly year-over-year increase for trailers and containers since January 2010.
In May 2011, the most recent month for employment figures, freight railroads added 745 employees, bringing the number to 157,522 employees at major freight railroads nationwide. May was the fourth straight month to see an employment increase, and the thirteenth monthly employment increase in the past 17 months.
“For several months now, rail traffic, along with other economic indicators, have presented a mixed picture of the economy,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “While rail carloads have been relatively weak for the past quarter, largely due to coal traffic being down, rail intermodal remains relatively strong. Just like America waits to see what will happen with overall economic recovery, railroads are waiting to see what’s in store for the second half of the year.”
Overall, 14 of 20 commodity categories saw carload gains on U.S. railroads in June 2011 compared with June 2010. Traffic gains were led by: metallic ores, up 19.2 percent; lumber and wood, up 12.9 percent, and grain, up 11.3 percent. Commodity groups with declines included: waste and non-ferrous scrap, down 13.6 percent; primary forest products, down 7.2 percent, and coal, down 3.2 percent.
Railroads continue to bring cars out of storage, as demand for rail continues to slowly rise. During the month of June, railroads brought 2,847 cars out, leaving 276,236 freight cars, or 18.2 percent of the North American fleet still in storage.