US weekly chem rail traffic down 14.0%; N America down 17.1%

26 February 2009 17:29  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--US chemical railcar traffic, a key indicator of the health of the chemicals industry, fell 14.0% in the week ended 21 February from the same week in 2008, marking the 25th straight decline, according to data released on Thursday.

US chemical railcar loadings were 25,855, down from 30,078 from the same week in 2008, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said.

The weekly shipment data are a good early indicator of current chemical industry activity. Railroads transport more than 20% of the chemicals produced in the US.

For the year-to-date period through 21 February, US chemical railcar loadings fell 17.4% to 179,328, down from 217,141 in the same period last year.

The AAR also provided comparable chemical railcar shipment data for Canada, Mexico and North America as a whole.

Canadian chemical rail traffic for the week ended 21 February dropped 26.5% to 11,244 carloads, down from 15,307 in the same week last year.

For the year-to-date period, Canadian shipments were 83,762, a 22.1% decrease from 107,582 in the same period in 2008.

Mexican weekly chemical rail traffic rose 50.7% to 1,171 carloads, up from 777 in the same week a year earlier.

For the year-to-date period, Mexican shipments were 7,170, up 12.7% from 6,362 in the same period last year.

For all of North America, chemical railcar shipments totalled 38,270 for the week, down 17.1% from 46,162 in the same week in 2008.

Year-to-date to 21 February, North American chemical railcar traffic was 270,260 carloads, down 18.4% from 331,085 in the same period last year.

Overall, the AAR tracks 19 carload commodity categories.

US weekly railcar traffic for the 19 carload commodity categories dropped 14.2% to 278,827, and was down 15.9% year-to-date to 1,893,051.

For all of North America, railcar traffic sank 13.7% to 355,055 for the week, and fell 16.2% in the year-to-date period ending 21 February to 2,406,137.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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