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January 4, 2013 10:00 AM, EST
Intermodal Traffic Up 3.2% for Year
Bruce Harmon/Trans Pixs

U.S. rail intermodal traffic rose 3.2% to 12.3 million containers and trailers in 2012 from the year before, the second highest total on record, the Association of American Railroads said.

Intermodal volume was down 0.1% from record high totals in 2006, AAR said.

Total carloads fell 3.1% to 14.7 million in 2012 from the prior year.

AAR also said December intermodal traffic increased 1.7% to 888,002 containers and trailers from December 2011.

Intermodal traffic dropped 14% last week over the same week a year ago, and container traffic for the week ended Saturday fell 12.5% to 137,006, units and trailer traffic fell 24% to 18,794 units, AAR said.

Railroad carloads — excluding intermodal — fell 13.8% to 211,921 units for the week, AAR said in its weekly report.

Railroad volume is considered an important economic indicator. Intermodal traffic, which tends to be higher-valued merchandise than bulk commodities, uses trains for the long haul and trucks for shorter distances at either end of the trip.