There are still no signs of recession in rail data. This week’s data was consistent with recent data and showed moderate growth with carloads up 2.8% and intermodal traffic up 3.5% for the year. For the month of November carloads rose 2.3% while intermodal was up 3.8%. All in all, this appears consistent with growth though clearly not booming growth. The AAR has more details on the data:
“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported gains in November 2011 rail traffic compared with the same month last year, with U.S. railroads originating 1,476,635 carloads, up 2.3 percent, and 1,162,249 trailers and containers, up 3.8 percent. November 2011 saw the largest year-over-year percentage increase in carload traffic since March 2011. Detailed monthly data charts and tables will be made available in the AAR’s Rail Time Indicators report to be released tomorrow.
In November 2011, 13 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR saw increases on U.S. railroads compared with November 2010. The largest gains were: motor vehicles and parts, up 11,069 carloads or 18.7 percent; crushed stone, gravel and sand, up 9,740 carloads or 12 percent; and coal, up 8,455 carloads or 1.3 percent. On a percentage basis, the biggest increase in November was in carloads of petroleum and petroleum products, up 6,058 carloads or 18.8 percent. Commodity groups seeing a decline in November included grain, down 15,037 carloads or 12.4 percent; chemicals, down 1,599 carloads or 1.1 percent; and food products, down 1,498 carloads or 4.5 percent.
“In November, U.S. rail carload traffic saw its highest year-over-year percentage increase in eight months, and year-over-year intermodal traffic grew for the 24th straight month,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray. “There are still clearly a lot of things that aren’t right with the economy, but we hope this improvement in rail traffic is a sign that the pace of economic growth is increasing.”
Total Class I rail employment in October 2011 was up 3.9 percent, or 5,966 employees, compared with October 2010. As of December 1, 2011, 263,912 freight cars were in storage, a 17 percent decrease since December 1, 2010 equal to 17.3 percent of the North American fleet. Cars in storage rose by 2,217 from November 1, 2011 to December 1, 2011.
Today, AAR also reported gains in weekly rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 311,356 carloads for the week ending Dec. 3, 2011, up 2.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 243,997 trailers and containers, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week last year.
Thirteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2010, including: Crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 20.5 percent; lumber and wood products, up 19.9 percent, and metal products, up 17.5 percent. The groups showing a significant decrease in weekly traffic included: grain, down 16 percent; farm products, excluding grain, down 15.9 percent, and metallic ores, down 15.6 percent.”
Chart provided by pragcap.com
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.