September Rail Intermodal Numbers Highest in 2009

September intermodal units were the hightest since November 2008 says the Assocation of American Railroads (AAR). AAR reported that while US rail intermodal traffic in September was down 14.6% (to 993,235 units) compared with the same month last year, average weekly intermodal units in September 2009 were the highest since November 2008.

September's monthly carload data showed a decline - down by 14.2% (at 1,380,684 carloads) compared with the same month in 2008. Weather may have played a role in this decline, says AAR, with flooding in the Southeastern US affecting traffic across many commodity categories. Lower natural gas prices and the relatively mild summer may also have been a factor in carload declines, since there was a drop in demand for coal (the single largest commodity shipped by railroads). Coal traffic was down 13.3% (to 645,843 carloads) compared with September 2008.

"The data in the October report gives us some indication that better things may be on the horizon," said John Gray, AAR senior vice president of Policy and Economics. "While some of this activity is seasonal, railroads have taken more than 15,000 cars out of storage between September 1 and October 1. However, we must continue to wait and-see."

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