The latest rail data from AAR is consistent with a sluggish economy. The good news is that the economy isn’t cratering as some might think from the recent market action. But the bad news is that growth isn’t exactly showing any signs of real strength. Carloads and intermodal traffic were up just marginally on a year over year basis. The AAR reports:
“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported modest gains in weekly rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 287,321 carloads for the week ending August 6, 2011, up 0.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 235,568 trailers and containers, up 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year.
Thirteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010, including: iron and steel scrap, up 37.6 percent; metal and products, up 14.2 percent, and farm products excluding grain, up 13.6 percent. Groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included: grain, down 22.5 percent, and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 14.2 percent.
Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was down 1.8 percent compared with the same week in 2010.
For the first 31 weeks of 2011, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,938,230 carloads, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year, and 6,987,350 trailers and containers, up 6.7 percent from last year.”