US weekly chem rail traffic falls 14.8%

05 March 2009 20:43  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--US chemical railcar traffic, a key indicator of the health of the chemicals industry, fell 14.8% in the week ended 28 February from the same week in 2008, marking the 26th straight decline, according to data released on Thursday.

US chemical railcar loadings were 28,130, down from 33,024 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 28 February, US chemical railcar loadings fell 17.1% to 207,458, down from 250,165 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 28 February dropped 29.1% to 11,514 carloads, down from 16,229 in the same week last year.

For the year-to-date period, Canadian shipments were 95,276, a 23.0% decrease from 123,811 in the same period in 2008.

Mexican weekly chemical rail traffic rose 20.5% to 1,165, up from 967 in the same week a year earlier.

For the year-to-date period, Mexican shipments were 8,335, up 13.7% from 7,329 in the same period last year.

For all of North America, chemical railcar shipments totalled 40,809 for the week, down 18.7% from 50,220 in the same week in 2008.

Year to date to 28 February, North American chemical railcar traffic was 311,069 carloads, down 18.4% from 381,305 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 15.8% to 283,532, and dropped by 15.8% also year to date to 2,176,583.

For all of North America, railcar traffic sank 16.8% to 358,605 for the week, and fell 16.2% in the year-to-date period ending 28 February to 2,764,742.

Commenting on the overall US shipment data for the full month of February – down 14.5% or 188,847 to 1,109,035 carloads, from February 2008 – AAR senior vice president John Gray said: “Obviously, it’s still a very difficult economic environment out there for railroads and their customers.”

“Time will tell how quickly the economy recovers.”

“In the meantime, we’re hopeful that policymakers focus on growing the nation’s rail networks so more people and more goods can move by rail,” he added.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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