Last month, intermodal traffic rose 3 percent, year over year, to 1.21 million containers and trailers, according to the Association of American Railroads. May’s weekly average for intermodal traffic stood at 242,823 containers and trailers, the highest result the AAR has recorded.
Carloads finished the month at just more than 1.4 million units, a 0.7-percent increase over May 2012.
Out of the 20 major commodities tracked by AAR, 11 increased in May, with the biggest jump coming in petroleum and petroleum products, which increased by 41.8 percent, or 20,837 carloads. Motor vehicles and related parts were up by 6.2 percent (4,916 carloads), and crushed stone, gravel and sand increased by 5.2 percent (5,191 carloads), year over year.
Grain was down by 20 percent last month, while metal product shipments fell by 7.2 percent, and grain mill products decreased by 6.9 percent.
While the results showed a bit of growth, activity has still be tamped down by the weak economy.
“The economy is still not firing on all cylinders, and rail traffic in May reflects that,” the AAR’s John Gray said in a statement. “Like everyone else, railroads are hopeful that the economy will soon finally shake off its malaise and start reaching its potential.” - Jon Ross