U.S. Intermodal freight volume rose 5.2 percent year-on-year in June to 996,022 containers and trailers, the Association of American Railroads reported this week.
Intermodal volume has been on such a high that average weekly traffic in June was the third highest of any month on record.
“The June 2012 average weekly intermodal volume of 249,006 units is the highest average for any June on record and the third highest for any month, behind August and October 2006,” AAR said.
The robust intermodal volume has somewhat offset lower non-intermodal traffic, with volume falling 1.3 percent in June, compared to the same month in 2011, to 1.1 million carloads.
Nine of the 20 commodity groups tracked by AAR saw carload gains in June 2012, compared with June 2011, including petroleum and petroleum products, up 51 percent; motor vehicles and parts, up 24.5 percent; food products, up 6.2 percent; and lumber and wood products, up 11.4 percent.
Commodities with carload declines in June 2012 were led by coal, down 6.2 percent; grain, down 10.6 percent; metallic ores, down 8 percent; and iron and steel scrap, down 10.2 percent.
“U.S. intermodal originations in 2012 through June are slightly ahead of 2006’s record pace, setting up the very real possibility that 2012 will be the highest-volume intermodal year ever for U.S. railroads,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “The recovery in intermodal traffic since the recession has been remarkable and is due in large part to railroads’ huge investments in their intermodal business that have improved rail intermodal’s reliability and efficiency.”