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This weeks data on rail freight continues to point to severe economic weakness.

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2009 — Freight traffic on U.S. railroads remained sharply down from a year ago during the week ended April 25, the Association of American Railroads reported today. U.S. railroads originated 260,652 cars during the week, down 22.4 percent from the comparison week in 2008, although up 2.1 percent from the previous week this year. In comparison with last year, loadings were down 20.7 percent in the West and 24.7 percent in the East.

Eighteen of 19 carload commodity groups were down from last year, with only the catch-all category of all other carloads defying the trend and showing a 12.8 percent increase. Declines among the remaining commodity groups ranged from 8.0 percent for grain mill products to 62.4 percent for metals.

Intermodal volume of 184,509 trailers or containers was off 17.8 percent from last year, although up 0.7 percent from the previous week this year. Container volume fell 12.4 percent from last year, while trailer volume dropped 37.1 percent.

Total volume was estimated at 27.7 billion ton-miles, off 21.1 percent from 2008 but up 1.8 percent from the previous week this year.

I’ve stressed this point before.  When we see a real turn in the economy we will see the major commodity related and transportation related names show sustainable strength.  These are the real nuts and bolts of the global economy.  Thus far, we are just not seeing any sort of strength.

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