February 7, 2014 8:30 AM, EST
Intermodal Rail Traffic Hits Record in January
Port of Seattle

The weekly average intermodal rail volume for January rose to the highest level on record for the month, the Association of American Railroads reported.

Intermodal volume reached a weekly average of 236,657 units in January, and total intermodal traffic rose 1.3% to 1.2 million for the month, AAR said in its weekly report.

Railroad carloads excluding intermodal increased 0.4% year-over-year to 1.3 million units, according to the AAR report.

Seven of 20 commodity groups showed increases, led by grain (13.2%) and petroleum products (10.4%).

“Railroads are very good at operating their 140,000-mile long, outdoor ‘factory floor’ in all kinds of difficult weather.  That said, in many parts of the country, January took the term difficult weather to new lows, as in low temperatures, for recent years,” AAR Senior Vice President John Gray said in a statement.

“We can’t quantify it precisely, but the extreme cold probably held down rail traffic to some extent — for example, by making it more difficult for rail customers to produce their products and to load what they did produce into rail cars,” he said.

For the week ended Feb. 1, intermodal volume declined 0.8% to 247,109 units, according to AAR. Carloads excluding intermodal containers dropped 1.5% to 270,903. 

For the first five weeks of the year, intermodal traffic increased 1.3% to 1.2 million units.