This week’s rail traffic report from the AAR is a bit more mixed than many of the recent reports. Carloads actually declined on a YoY basis while intermodal traffic continued to show decent growth. The 4 week moving average in intermodal traffic is still at 8% and consistent with an expanding economy. The AAR elaborates on the most recent data:
“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed results in weekly rail traffic on U.S. railroads, with carloads down 2.1 percent, at 292,706 carloads for the week ending April 23, 2011, and intermodal volume up 6.3 percent compared with the same week last year, totaling 225,668 trailers and containers. Issues affecting the weekly figures include severe weather across a large portion of the Midwest and Southeastern U.S., as well as a non-holiday week in the 2010 comparison week.Only six of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. Those groups posting notable increases included: grain, up 20.4 percent, and coke, up 16.5 percent. Commodity groups reporting notable drops in weekly traffic were primary forest products, down 23.3 percent; waste and nonferrous scrap, down 20.1 percent, and iron and steel scrap, down 14.3 percent.
Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 7.8 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was up 2.1 percent compared with the same week in 2010.
For the first 16 weeks of 2011, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,655,879 carloads, up 4 percent from last year, and 3,541,068 trailers and containers, up 8.9 percent from the same point in 2010.”