After a strong recovery in the immediate aftermath of the recession, the resurgence of rail transport has slowed its momentum, with national freight carriers reporting an uneven performance throughout last year.
U.S. freight carload traffic in 2012 fell 3.1 percent from 2011, while freight moved by intermodal units on trains increased 3.2 percent in volume, according to data from Railway Age magazine.
That uneven picture also extended to the South Shore commuter railroad run by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, according to NICTD Planning and Marketing Director John Parsons
South Shore ridership in 2012 was about even with 2011 through November, but low ridership in December means the railroad ended up with a 1 percent decline in ridership for the year, Parsons said.
"We just didn't carry the level of traffic we normally carry into Chicago for shopping," Parsons said of the holiday shopping season.
Also affecting ridership in 2012 were Chicago's NATO Summit in May, and a number of mishaps such as a non-railroad high voltage line dropping on tracks in October and a steel coil dropping off a bridge onto tracks at the year's end.