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The AAR is out with their latest railtime indicators for the month of November.

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today released the December 2009 “Rail Time Indicators” report and online video summary. The report notes that November freight rail carloadings were down 8.2 percent compared with the same month last year and down 17.4 percent compared with November of 2007.  However, if Thanksgiving week were excluded, November would have been the highest volume month of the year for U.S. railroads.

“November’s traffic numbers, when considering the effect of the Thanksgiving week, are generally positive,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John Gray. “Rail traffic is still down significantly in comparison to 2007 numbers, but the economic indicators in December’s report lead us to believe that our nation’s economy continues to improve.”

What are the latest numbers for U.S. railroads?

• In November 2009, U.S. freight railroads originated 1,089,077 carloads, an average of 272,269 carloads per week. That’s down 8.2%, or 96,900 carloads, from November 2008’s 1,185,977 carloads (when the weekly average was 296,494 carloads) and down 17.4% from November 2007’s 1,318,023 total (a weekly average of 329,506 carloads).

• Coal had 78,535 fewer carloads in November 2009 than November 2008,
accounting for most of the 96,900 total carload decline for the month.

• U.S. intermodal traffic (which isn’t included in carload figures) totaled
794,184 trailers and containers in November 2009, an average of 198,546
per week. That’s down 6.7% from November 2008 (when the weekly average was 212,879 units) and down 14.1% from November 2007, when the weekly average was 231,124.

• Freight railroading is a 24/7/365-days a year business, but Thanksgiving week is always one of the lowest-volume weeks of the year and therefore holds down the November average.

• If Thanksgiving week were excluded, November would have been the highest volume month for U.S. railroads since November 2008 for both carload and intermodal traffic.

• For the first 11 months of 2009, U.S. rail carloadings were down 17.1% (2,596,616 fewer carloads), while intermodal traffic was down 15.5% (1,642,021 fewer trailers and containers).

Source: AAR