The latest rail data from the AAR shows signs of stability, but a very weak rebound in economic growth. Total carloadings climbed 1% week over week and are up 10.7% from the March market lows, but remain down 16.1% year over year. Intermodal freight was flat for the week and is down 16.2% year over year. Although there are signs of stability, the strength of the recovery appears tepid at best. The AAR reports:
WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 27, 2009 — The Association of American Railroads today reported that rail traffic continues to show slight improvement with rail carloadings at their highest level since early March. For the week ended Aug. 22, 2009, U.S. railroads reported originating 279,478 cars, down 16.1 percent compared with the same week in 2008. Regionally, carloadings were down 14.2 percent in the West and 18.9 percent in the East.
Intermodal volume of 193,207 trailers or containers on U.S. railroads was down 16.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Container volume fell 10.2 percent and trailer volume dropped 38.2 percent. Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending August 22 was estimated at 29.8 billion ton-miles, down 15.6 percent from the same week last year.
Eighteen of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were down from last year, with only the nonmetallic mineral category defying the trend with a 1.3 percent increase. Declines among the other commodities ranged from 5.7 percent for petroleum products to 49.3 percent for metallic ores.
For the first 33 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,715,641 carloads, down 18.8 percent from 2008; 6,151,511 trailers or containers, down 17.1 percent, and total volume of an estimated 927.7 billion ton-miles, down 17.9 percent.