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Despite a 11% decline versus last year, we continue to see some signs of life in the weekly and monthly total rail traffic.  Intermodal traffic reached its highly weekly volume for 2009 while carloads remained depressed and reported a year over year decline of 17.2%.   Signs of stability are certainly apparent and the recent uptick could prove to be a trend in rail data as comps become very easy when compared to Q4 of last year.  All in all, this is a relatively good sign for the economy going forward despite the marginal short-term gains.

The AAR reports:

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 15, 2009 — The Association of American Railroads today reported that for the week ending Oct. 10, 2009, rail traffic remains down – originating 273,429 carloads, down 17.2 percent compared with the same week in 2008. Regionally, carloads were down 15.4 percent in the West and 19.7 percent in the East.

Intermodal traffic, while down 11 percent from the same week last year, showed slight signs of improvement this week. U.S. railroads reported originating 208,941 trailers or containers for 2009 – the highest weekly intermodal volume for 2009. In the year over year comparison, however, container volume fell 4.6 percent and trailer volume dropped 34.9 percent.

Seventeen of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were down from the same week last year. However, nonmetallic minerals were up 6 percent and grain mill products were up 1.4 percent. Declines in commodity groups ranged from 3.1 percent for grain to 70.4 percent for metallic ores.

For the first 40 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,655,334 carloads, down 18.1 percent from 2008; 7,556,240 trailers or containers, down 16.6 percent, and total volume of an estimated 1.14 trillion ton-miles, down 17.2 percent. Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending October 10 was estimated at 30.8 billion ton-miles, off 16.1 percent from the same week last year.


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