Weekly US rail volumes rebound from prior week

U.S. rail traffic recovered last week from the prior week’s dip in volumes, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

U.S. rail volumes totaled 533,872 carloads and intermodal units for the week ending last Saturday. That total is 2% higher than the prior week and 28.3% higher than the same period in 2020. The double-digit percentage increase reflects the volume downturn that occurred last year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in North America.

U.S. carload volumes totaled 242,806 carloads, up 2.9% sequentially and 31.6% higher year-over-year. 

Meanwhile, U.S. intermodal traffic totaled 291,066 containers and trailers, up 1.3% sequentially and 25.6% higher year-over-year.

On a year-to-date basis, U.S. volumes totaled 9.7 million carloads and intermodal units, up 12.1% compared with the same period in 2020.

(Source: SONAR) To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.

TNW Corporation expands railcar service offerings on Texas North Western Railway

Dallas-based short line and logistics operator TNW Corporation is partnering with The Andersons’ (NASDAQ: ADNE) rail business unit and expanding railcar service offerings on the Texas North Western Railway (TXNW).

Customers will have access to railcar cleaning and flaring; a full-service repair shop for tank cars and hoppers; railcar storage in a facility that has a storage capacity of 11,000 railcars; and interchange opportunities with BNSF (NYSE: BRK.B).

The repair shop will provide general repairs that follow AAR and Federal Railroad Administration guidelines, as well as HM-216 tank car qualification, TNW said. The repair shop will also carry an M-1002 certification.

The Andersons is an agribusiness specializing in commodity trading, ethanol, plant nutrient and railcar leasing and repair, while TNW Corporation owns the largest private storage facility in North America at TXNW Railway, according to the company. 

“TNW and The Andersons understand the importance for shippers and leasing companies who are looking to combine railcar cleaning, repairs and storage in one location to effectively manage their fleet. The partnership with The Andersons elevates the level of service we will provide to our customers,” said Wade Hoffmann, TNW vice president of marketing and sales.

Said Sam Anderson, vice president of The Andersons Rail Group, “Investments into the repair infrastructure on TXNW allow us to provide a full suite of tank car repair services, including tank car certifications. The shop is adjacent to the TXNW storage yard and we believe the geographical location, Class I connection and strong partnership with TNW Corporation will add significant value to our customers.”

OmniTRAX offers rail-ready sites in northeast Ohio

Short line and logistics operator OmniTRAX is working with Team NEO, an economic development group in northeast Ohio, to develop industrial sites along the Cleveland and Cuyahoga Railroad (CCRL). 

OmniTRAX and Team NEO are marketing four new sites consisting of two parcels that eclipse 40 acres of greenfield space and two rail-served facilities. The facilities total 254,000 square feet on the CCRL, which offers transload and multimodal options with connections to Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) and Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway, OmniTRAX said.

“Northeast Ohio has a strong transportation network with a reputation for serving Ohio’s deep manufacturing history and these rail-ready sites will continue the region’s proud manufacturing legacy. Together with our partners at Team NEO, we are committed to bringing quality new manufacturers to Northeast Ohio,” said OmniTRAX Vice President of Industrial Development Ean Johnson.

Pueblo R&D facility witnesses milestones

The rail industry’s research and development (R&D) facility in Pueblo, Colorado, was witness to two milestones recently.

First, on Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recognized 50 years of R&D work at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Transportation Technology Center (TTC) in Pueblo.

DOT calls TTC a “proving ground for safety standards development and the latest rail technologies,” in which researchers, regulators and the industry can conduct full-scale laboratory research and advanced testing. 

“TTC is a vital resource for FRA and the railroad industry,” FRA Deputy Administrator Amit Bose said. “For decades, this facility’s work has contributed immensely to dramatic transportation safety improvements. We’re grateful for the men and women who dedicate themselves to applying the latest and best science and engineering available to rail. We look forward to another half-century of safety and innovation.”

The 52-square-mile center in rural Colorado was inaugurated by U.S. Secretary of Transportation John Volpe on May 19, 1971. Initially designed to conduct research and develop high-speed ground transportation, the center has since grown to 50 miles of track used to test various rail scenarios, according to DOT. The center has helped FRA develop realistic training situations and improve safety standards related to passenger rail crashworthiness and tank car standards, DOT said.

For many years, the center has been under the care, custody and control of TTCI, the rail research and testing subsidiary of AAR, as a public-private partnership. TTCI will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the center until September 2022.

TTCI last week said it achieved a significant new milestone of its own when it accumulated 5 billion gross tons of freight loading at its Facility for Accelerated Service Testing (FAST) in Pueblo.

TTCI defined gross tonnage as “the total weight of trains (cars, the loads in them and the locomotives included) that move through a territory.” 

“TTCI’s landmark accumulation of 5 billion gross tons over a 2.7-mile loop of track is equivalent to taking the current population of the United States (about 331 million people) on a 450-mile train ride,” it said.

FAST is TTCI’s effort to enhance the safety, reliability and efficiency of high tonnage, heavy axle load freight rail transportation. TTCI describes FAST as a means to safely introduce new technology into commercial service. 

“The objective is to create a demanding environment but also a realistic and scientifically controlled one, under which all manner of freight-railway components and systems can be tested — before they are introduced into commercial service,” said TTCI Senior AVP for Research and Development Gary Fry. 

The FAST test bed comprises a full-scale loop of track and a fully functional freight train, TTCI said. The record tonnage was accumulated by the test train traveling over the 2.7-mile loop at FAST, which currently supports a 114-car train weighing 18,000 tons that accumulates 120 million to 140 million gross tons of loading per year, the group said.

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Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.

Related links:

Rail Roundup: OmniTRAX, G&W develop, expand partnerships

OmniTRAX names rail industry veteran CEO

Rail Roundup: TTCI scope and rail-shipper council membership expand

Commentary: Why heavy axle loading freight matters