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Rail Traffic: Still Expanding Modestly

No big changes in this data.  Rail traffic continues to expand modestly.  This week’s data from AAR showed a continuing decline in carloads, but an increase in intermodal.  We track intermodal as it has proven to be a better leading indicator of economic growth.  The 3 month moving average in intermodal now sits at 3.5% – Well below the 2010 double digit readings, but not contracting.  The AAR has more on this week’s data:

“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed weekly rail traffic for the week ending October 20, 2012, with U.S. railroads originating 288,791 carloads, down 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 253,883 trailers and containers, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week last year.

Seven of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with farm products excluding grain, up 87 percent; petroleum products, up 60.5 percent, and lumber and wood products, up 19.8 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included iron and steel scrap, down 25.5 percent; coal, down 13.9 percent, and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 13.2 percent.

Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 6 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was down 3.4 percent compared with the same week in 2011.

For the first 42 weeks of 2012, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,899,725 carloads, down 2.8 percent from the same point last year, and 9,967,086 trailers and containers, up 3.7 percent from last year.”

(Figure 1 – Intermodal Rail Traffic via Orcam Financial Group)