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The weakness of the macro economy is nowhere more evident than it is in the railroad industry.  The AAR’s October Railtime Report clearly displays how weak the real economy remains and how tepid the actual recovery has been:

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

  • U.S. freight railroads originated 1,380,684 carloads in September 2009, down 14.2% (227,837 carloads) from September 2008 and the 11th straight double-digit monthly carload decline. The percentage decline in September was the lowest since December 2008.
  • Average weekly carloads on U.S. railroads in September 2009 (276,137) were 2,900 less than in August 2009. All or most of that decline can probably be attributed to severe flooding in the Southeast which shut down some rail lines for a period in September.
  • In September 2009, U.S. intermodal traffic (which is not included in the carload figures discussed above) totaled 993,235 trailers and containers, down 14.6% (169,912 units) from  September 2008 (see charts at top of next page).
  • The average weekly intermodal count on U.S. railroads in September 2009 was 198,647 trailers and containers, up 2,600 units from August 2009 and the highest since November 2008. The last three weeks of September were the three highest-volume intermodal weeks of 2009 for U.S. freight railroads.
  • For the first nine months of 2009, U.S. rail carloadings were down 18.1% (2,301,087 carloads), while intermodal traffic was down 16.8% (1,480,358 trailers and containers). In Q3 2009, U.S. rail carloadings were down 16.0%, compared with a decline of 22.2% in Q2 2009 and 16.2% in Q1 2009.



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