Full year pulp and paper freight in the US was up 0.1% from 2011, Canada was 5.8% lower and Mexico was down 5.7%.
North American lumber and wood products freight in 2012 was 10.3% higher than 2011 at 304,456 carloads, AAR showed. US traffic was up 13%, Canada 7.2% higher and Mexico rose 34.7%.
North American primary forest products rail volume of 159,524 carloads was 1.9% above 2011.
Total North American rail freight in 2012 was down 2% from 2011 to 19.44 million carloads. In 2012, 12 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR saw increases on US railroads compared with 2011.
The US commodities with the biggest carload declines in 2012 were coal, down 10.8% and grain down 9.5%, AAR noted.
"Coal and grain typically account for around half of US rail carloads, so when they're down, chances are good that overall rail carloads are down too, as we saw in 2012," AAR commented. "That said, a number of key rail carload categories showed solid improvement in 2012, including categories like autos and lumber that are most highly correlated with economic growth."