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More mixed news on the rail front this week as total carloads posted a sharp 7.2% decline and intermodal traffic posted a 4.2% increase.   The declines in coal are dragging down the overall data substantially.  Nevertheless, the 10 week moving average in intermodal declined a bit to 3.2% and is consistent with a sluggish, but growing economy.  The AAR has the details on this week’s report:

“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed weekly rail traffic for the week ending March 24, 2012, with U.S. railroads originating 278,393 carloads, down 7.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 232,401 trailers and containers, up 4.2 percent compared with the same week last year.

Twelve of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 26.8 percent; coke, up 15.1 percent, and motor vehicles and equipment, up 13.8 percent. The groups showing a significant decrease in weekly traffic included coal, down 17.4 percent, and grain, down 14.2 percent.

Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was down 9.1 percent compared with the same week in 2011.

For the first twelve weeks of 2012, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,392,128 carloads, down 2.2 percent from last year, and 2,685,673 trailers and containers, up 2.4 percent from last year.”

Source: AAR

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