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After gangbuster readings in the last few weeks the most recent rail traffic data from the AAR shows a moderating traffic and carload trend (via AAR):

“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported a decline in rail traffic for the week ending July 10, 2010, with U.S. railroads originating 252,963 carloads, down 3.5 percent compared with the same week in 2009 and down 20.8 percent from 2008. The comparison week in 2009 included the July 4 Independence Day holiday, while 2008 did not. In order to offer a complete picture of the progress in rail traffic, AAR reports 2010 weekly rail traffic with comparison weeks in both 2009 and 2008.

Weekly intermodal traffic totaled 192,954 trailers and containers, up 9.1 percent from a year ago and down 16.8 percent compared with 2008. Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume increased 11.4 percent, and trailer volume sank 2.7 percent. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume fell 10.2 percent and trailer volume dropped 41.9 percent.”

“Six of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009, while all 19 groups posting decreases from 2008 numbers. For the comparable week in 2009, metallic ores, up 72.8 percent, and metals and metal products, up 42.4 percent, continued to post the most significant increases. For the comparable 2008 week, declines ranged from 46 percent for waste and scrap materials to 9.9 percent for coke.

Carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 5.7 percent from last year and 29.9 percent from 2008. In the West, carload volume was down 2.3 percent from last year and down 14.8 percent from two years ago.

For the first 27 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,591,926 carloads, up 7.4 percent from 2009, but down 13.2 percent from 2008, and 5,627,846 trailers or containers, up 12.8 percent from 2009, but down 6.6 percent from 2008.”

Source: AAR