U.S. rail carload and intermodal volumes are mixed for week ending January 13

Intermodal containers and trailers headed up 5% to 270,586, ahead of the 207,216 recorded for the week ending January 6.

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United States rail carload and intermodal volumes were mixed for the week ending January 13, according to data issued by the .

Carloads dropped 4.1% annually to 241,351, which topped the 208,646 recorded for the week ending January 6. AAR said that four of the ten carload commodity groups it tracks were up annually, including nonmetallic minerals, up 3,668 carloads, to 30,530; chemicals, up 2,028 carloads, to 31,879; and forest products, up 244 carloads, to 9,748. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included coal, down 8,992 carloads, to 76,001; grain, down 2,444 carloads, to 21,957; and metallic ores and metals, down 1,443 carloads, to 20,518.

Intermodal containers and trailers headed up 5% to 270,586, ahead of the 207,216 recorded for the week ending January 6.

For the first two weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 449,997 carloads, which is down 4.6 annually. And intermodal at 477,802 units, rose 1% annually. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first two weeks of 2018 was 927,799 carloads and intermodal units, marking a 1.8% annual decline. 


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Transportation of freight in containers was first recorded around 1780 to move coal along England’s Bridgewater Canal. However, "modern" intermodal rail service by a major U.S. railroad only dates back to 1936. Malcom McLean’s Sea-Land Service significantly advanced intermodalism, showing how freight could be loaded into a “container” and moved by two or more modes economically and conveniently. As with all new technologies, there were problems that slowed the growth, which influenced many potential customers to shy away from moving intermodal.
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