US chemical railcar traffic falls for fourth week in a row

05 April 2012 18:56  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US chemical railcar traffic fell by 5.3% year on year for the week ended 31 March, marking its fourth decline in a row and the eighth decline so far this year, according to data released on Thursday by a rail industry group.

There were 31,271 chemical railcar loadings last week, compared with 33,035 in the corresponding week of 2011, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said.

In the previous week, ended 24 March, US weekly chemical railcar loadings fell by 3.6%.

The weekly logistics data are an important real time measure of chemical industry activity and demand. Railcar loadings represent about 20% of US chemical transportation by tonnage, with trucks, barges and pipelines carrying the rest.

From 1 January to 31 March, US chemical railcar loadings were down by 1.3%, to 393,871, compared with the corresponding period of last year.

Meanwhile, overall US weekly railcar loadings for the 19 high-volume freight commodity groups tracked by the AAR fell by 6.2% year on year to 286,962 carloads.

For the month of March, overall carloads were down 5.8% year on year to 1,123,298, led by a decline in coal, which is by far the largest among the 19 commodity groups.

β€œIt is encouraging that many commodities that are better indicators of the state of the economy than coal is - things like motor vehicles, lumber and wood products, and crushed stone - saw higher rail carloadings in March,” said AAR senior vice president John Gray in commenting on the past month. 

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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