Rail traffic has remained very strong in recent months despite concerns over recession. This week’s data doesn’t alter the trend, but is certainly an alarming decline that is worth keeping a close eye on. Overall intermodal traffic was down -9.3% while carloads declined -3.7%. This index has been somewhat volatile as of late and clearly one week doesn’t make a trend, but rail has served as a superb harbinger of recession over the last few cycles….More from the AAR:
“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported a decrease in weekly rail traffic for the week ending January 7, 2012, with U.S. railroads originating 274,862 carloads, down 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 193,812 trailers and containers, down 9.3 percent compared with the same week last year.
Five of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with metallic ores, up 29.2 percent, having the greatest gain. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included: grain, down 20 percent; farm products excluding grain, down 18.5 percent, and iron and steel scrap, down 17 percent.
Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 13.8 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was up 2.7 percent compared with the same week in 2011.
For the first week of 2011, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 274,862 carloads, down 3.7 percent from last year, and 193,812 trailers and containers, down 9.3 percent from last year.”