Year over year rail traffic remains strong, but there are signs that the data may have peaked earlier this year. In addition to declining year on year gains we are also seeing a weakening in the breadth of the commodity groups. AAR reports:
“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported that weekly rail traffic continues to post gains over 2009 levels with U.S. railroads originating 297,029 carloads for the week ending Oct. 9, 2010, up 8.8 percent compared with the same week last year. AAR will no longer report 2010 weekly rail traffic with comparison weekly data in 2008 since October 2008 marked the beginning of the recession-related downturn in rail traffic.Intermodal traffic for the week totaled 236,272 trailers and containers, up 13.1 percent compared with the same week a year ago, with container volume up 14.1 percent and trailer volume up 7.4 percent.
Fifteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009, with metallic ores posting the most significant gain, up 199.7 percent. Commodity groups posting declines included non-metallic minerals, down 18.9 percent, primary forest products, down 5.6 percent, grain mill products, down 2.7 percent, and food and kindred products, down 0.7 percent.
Carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 4.7 percent compared with last year. In the West, carload volume was up 11.6 percent from the same week in 2009.
For the first 40 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,425,258 carloads, up 7.2 percent from last year, and 8,658,978 trailers or containers, up 14.7 percent from the comparison week in 2009.”