OAKLAND, CA, June 6, 2014 (RISI) -North American forest products railroad freight was 8.2% higher in the latest week ending May 31 from a year ago at 19,619 carloads, the Assn of American Railroads reported. Forest products carloads through 22 weeks of 2014 at 402,267 were 2% lower than the same period in 2013.
US forest products freight in the week surged 13.6%, Canada rose 1.2% and Mexico dropped 23.5%.
Total North American rail carloads were up 9.5% in the week and 2% year-to-date.
Excluding coal and grain, AAR said US carloads were up 37,493 carloads, or 6% in May, the biggest such percentage increase since December 2012.
"If you're looking for a sign that the economy is shaking off its first quarter lethargy, rail traffic in May could be that sign," AAR commented. "Crushed stone, steel, motor vehicles, lumber, chemicals -- the list of commodities showing carload gains in May goes on and on. And intermodal continues to surge. All in all, there's very little to dislike about May's rail traffic figures. We hope it really is a sign that the economy is beginning a period of solid growth."