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Rail carload traffic remains down in January, AAR says

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported US carloads for January 2010 were down 0.7% at 1,056,684 carloads, compared with the same month in 2009, and down 17.7% versus 2008. The Rail Time Indicators report, available at, comprises monthly rail traffic data framed with other key economic indicators to show how freight rail is tied to the broader US economy.

January 2010’s intermodal traffic, which includes movement of truck trailers and shipping containers, was up slightly at 2.5% to 803,275 units compared with January 2009, but down 11.2% versus the same month in 2008.

Thirteen of the 19 commodity categories tracked by AAR saw year-over-year gains from January 2009, with nonmetallic minerals seeing the highest gain, up 65.9%. The motor vehicles and parts category also saw a significant monthly boost, up 65.7% compared with January 2009. However all commodity categories, with the exception of grain mill products, were down in January compared with the same month in 2008.

For the first time, AAR also is providing seasonally adjusted US rail traffic in the Rail Time Indicators report, using January 1988–December 2009 as the basis for the seasonal adjustment. Seasonally adjusted carloads in January were up 2.6% from December 2009, and were the highest of any month in the past 11 months.

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