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U.S. rail carloads down slightly in October, while intermodal sets a new record, reports AAR

Carloads, at 1,065,777, were off 0.1%, or 1,220, annually and intermodal set a new monthly record with a 6.4% annual gain to 1,144,157. By LM Staff

United States rail carload and intermodal volumes in October were mixed, according to data recently issued by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Carloads, at 1,065,777, were off 0.1%, or 1,220, annually, said the AAR. And 12 of the 20 carload commodities tracked by the AAR were up compared to October 2016, including: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 15,873 carloads or 16.5 percent; chemicals, up 7,390 carloads or 6.4 percent; and metallic ores, up 4,076 carloads or 20.6 percent. Commodities that saw declines in October 2017 from October 2016 included: coal, down 17,764 carloads or 4.9 percent; grain, down 12,528 carloads or 11.8 percent; and motor vehicles & parts, down 5,190 carloads or 7 percent. When excluding coal, carloads were up 16,544 carloads, or 2.3%, in October 2017 from October 2016, and excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 29,072 carloads, or 4.8%.

While carloads were down slightly, U.S. intermodal output had a banner month, in fact its best monthly volume month ever recorded for intermodal.

U.S. intermodal containers and trailers headed up 6.4%, or 68,328 units, to 1,144,157.

“Year-over-year U.S. rail carloads in October were held back by declines in carloads of grain and coal,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “However, carloads of these commodities tend to rise or fall for reasons that have little to do with the state of the economy. Excluding them, carloads were up 4.8% in October, their best monthly gain in almost three years. As such, rail carloads, as well as record intermodal volume in October, support the view that the economy is doing somewhat better now than it has been in the past two years.”

On a year-to-date basis through October, U.S. carloads are up 3.4%, or 368,102 carloads, to 11,172,437, and intermodal units are up 3.7%, or 417,112 units, at 11,576,709.

For the week ending, October 28, U.S. carloads were down 3.2% at 263,064, and intermodal units rose 3.7% to 283,518.

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