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The AAR reported another week of growth in rail traffic for the week ending December 18th, however, there were signs that the broad strength we’ve seen lately has begun to moderate some.  Intermodal traffic was up by 5% while carload traffic was flat versus the same period last year (via AAR):

“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported that U.S. railroads posted moderate gains in weekly rail intermodal traffic for the week ending Dec. 18, 2010, originating 220,187 trailers and containers, up 5 percent compared with the same week in 2009. Container volume increased 4.9 percent and trailer volume was up 5.2 percent. Rail carload traffic for the week totaled 271,709 carloads, flat when compared with the same week last year. The effects of blizzards throughout the Midwest were felt in weekly traffic numbers on U.S. railroads.”

Twelve of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009. Commodities posting double digit gains in loadings included: farm products excluding grain, up 46.5 percent; metals and products, up 16.9 percent; lumber and wood products, up 15.6 percent; stone, clay and glass products, up 14.5 percent; and coke, up 12 percent. Commodities reporting double digit declines were non-metallic minerals, down 24.6 percent; motor vehicles and equipment, down 17 percent; and primary forest products, down 10.3 percent.

Carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 11.8 percent compared with last year. In the West, carload volume was up 7.9 percent compared with the same week in 2009.

For the first 50 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 14,323,957 carloads, up 7 percent from last year, and 10,938,193 trailers or containers, up 14.1 percent from the comparison week in 2009.