November 19, 2004 -- Posted 7:30 p.m. CST
JONESBORO -- Engines are roaring in Jonesboro as rail cars heat up the tracks.
John Balmly of Union Pacific says, "It certainly does reflect economy. Railroads have always been a barometer of how things are going and we're seeing very strong demands in all of our commodity groups."
Last month the rail industry moved 33.1 billion ton-miles--the most freight volume in its history.
Ton-miles is an industry term indicating one ton of goods moving one mile.
With the increase in gas prices, many big trucking companies have been shipping loaded trailers on freight cars.
This advantage, along with others, has put the railroad industry back on track.
More shipping means more volume. More volume means higher demand. The reflection is an improving economy.
The Christmas holiday is what the railroad industry refers to as "peak season."
However this season, there is a significant increase in business.
"This year, we noticed we had very high volumes early in spring that equaled the peak season of the year before, and it has grown ever since that time. A lot of that, of course, is Christmas merchandise."
A signal of an improving economy and a very Merry Christmas.