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Rail traffic has slowed in recent months, but continues to display modest signs of growth.  This week’s reading showed a continued slow-down in the trend and appears to be consistent with a modest economic recovery.  The data in recent weeks has been volatile, but has not yet turned decisively for the worse.  AAR elaborates on the latest reading:

“WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 17, 2011 – The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported rail traffic gains for the week ending March 12, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 292,164 carloads, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week was also up, totaling 216,828 trailers and containers, up 6.5 percent compared with the same week in 2010.

Twelve of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. Those groups posting significant increases included: metallic ores, up 105.3 percent; pulp, paper and allied products, up 17.9 percent, and motor vehicles and equipment, up 17.7 percent. The commodity groups reporting a notable drop in weekly traffic were waste and nonferrous scrap, down 13.7 percent and primary forest products, down 12.6 percent.

Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 2.8 percent compared with last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was up 4.2 percent compared with the same week in 2010.

For the first 10 weeks of 2011, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,870,806 carloads, up 5.5 percent from last year, and 2,176,100 trailers and containers, up 7.8 percent from the same point in 2010.”