Intermodal Traffic on Record-Breaking Pace

Intermodal volumes continue to track well for the transportation industry.

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) report intermodal volume rose for the 34th consecutive month and could set a record for 2012.

In September, intermodal traffic totaled 973,715 containers and trailers, a 2.5 percent increase over September 2011 traffic.

Mixed Bag

Commodity groups showing gains included the following.

  • Petroleum and petroleum products, up 55.7 percent (16,586 carloads)
  • Crushed stone, sand, and gravel, up 12.3 percent (9,044 carloads)
  • Motor vehicles and parts, up 5.3 percent (3,088 carloads)

Despite the gains, the AAR revealed declines in other areas.

  • U.S. rail carloads for September totaled 1,152,174, down 3.7 percent from 2011
  • Coal, the largest commodity, declined 12.1 percent
  • Metallic ores, were down 21.7 percent (7,531 carloads)
  • Waste and nonferrous scrap decreased 13.3 percent (1,815 carloads)

AAR Senior Vice President, John T. Gray, quoted in a press release, had a positive result to share. “The good news is that many other key rail traffic categories are offsetting coal’s decline…”

Fourteen of the twenty carload commodity groups showed increases over 2011.

More of the Same

AAR’s October 11, 2012 update shows more of the same pattern.

  • Carloads decreased 6.3 percent from the same week in 2011
  • Intermodal volume was up 3.8 percent
  • 10 of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases

The most recent report shared data for North American neighbors, Canada and Mexico.

  • Canadian railroads reported a slight decrease (0.2 percent) in carloads, compared to 2011
  • Canada’s trailers and containers were up 11.3 percent
  • Mexican railroads reported a 3.4 percent increase in carloads from 2011
  • Trailers and containers for Mexico were up 17.5 percent

AAR has weekly rail traffic charts available for download in a pdf format.


Does your logistics provider have the right intermodal connections? OL&T does.