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Rail traffic trends continue to show expansion, but at a slower rate than in previous weeks.  The latest data from the AAR showed a mild slowing in the year over year growth rate in both carloads and intermodal traffic.  On the whole, this data appears consistent with an economy that is still very weak, slowing marginally, but still growing (via AAR):

“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported gains in weekly rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 294,310 carloads for the week ending June 18, 2011, up 3.3 percent compared with the same week last year.  Intermodal volume for the week totaled 237,682 trailers and containers, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and setting a new weekly high for U.S. intermodal volume in 2011.

Sixteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. Commodity groups posting solid increases included: metallic ores, up 32.2 percent; lumber and wood products, up 17.2 percent, and grain, up 14.4 percent. Groups posting a notable decrease included: waste and nonferrous scrap, down 19.5 percent, and coke, down 11.9 percent.

Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 1.5 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was up 4.5 percent compared with the same week in 2010.

For the first 24 weeks of 2011, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,968,722 carloads, up 3 percent from last year, and 5,384,370 trailers and containers, up 8.2 percent from the same point in 2010.”

Source: AAR