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Either rails have become a lagging indicator or there is no recession in rail traffic.  This week’s data is VERY strong (via AAR):

“The Association of American Railroads today reported that rail traffic for the week ending July 3, 2010 topped comparison weeks from both 2008 and 2009. Carloads were up 18.8 percent, at 286,777 cars, from the comparable week in 2009 and up 0.4 percent from the same week in 2008. Comparison weeks in both 2009 and 2008 included the July 4th holiday. 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.Intermodal traffic totaled 231,286 trailers and containers, the highest since week 42 of 2008. Volume was up 36.6 percent from a year ago and 19.1 percent from 2008. Container volume of 197,134 was the sixth highest week ever and the highest since week 39 of 2007. Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume gained 39.8 percent and trailer volume rose 20.9 percent. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume increased 30.8 percent and trailer volume fell 21.3 percent.

Eighteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009, with metallic ores up 205.5 percent; motor vehicles and equipment up 122 percent; metals and metal products up 80.3 percent; and crushed stone, sand and gravel up 50.6 percent. Seven of the commodity groups also posted gains over 2008 levels.

Carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 36.8 percent from last year and 5.5 percent from 2008. In the West, carload volume was up 9.5 percent from last year but down 2.7 percent from two years ago.

For the first 26 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,338,963 carloads, up 7.8 percent from 2009, but down 12.9 percent from 2008, and 5,434,892 trailers or containers, up 12.9 percent from 2009, but down 6.2 percent from 2008.”

Source: AAR

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