March 13, 2008 3:45 PM, EDT

Intermodal Traffic Drops 15.1%

Tom Biery/Trans Pixs

Rail carload traffic fell and intermodal traffic dropped sharply for the week ended Saturday compared with a year ago, the Association of American Railroads said Thursday.

Intermodal traffic dropped 15.1%, led by a 17.7% decline in containers, AAR said in its weekly report.

Containers fell to 156,580 units, from 190,226 last year. Trailers fell to 49,771 units, from 52,948 a year earlier, a 6% decline.

Overall rail carload traffic fell 2.3% to 323,323 carloads, the group said.

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 the shorter distance at either end of the trip.