The latest rail traffic trends are continuing to show signs of stability and a very modest economic recovery. Intermodal rail traffic was down 12.6% versus the same period last year. This was down marginally from last weeks reading. The weakness was abroad across all segments of the economy:
The AAR notes that the seasonal comps going forward will become very easy as this was the week last year when the rail industry began to tank. This should provide a significant lift to future readings. The AAR reports:
WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 22, 2009 — The Association of American Railroads today reported that rail traffic remains down year over year for the week ended Oct. 17, 2009. U.S railroads reported originating 275,545 carloads, down 15.4 percent compared with the same week in 2008. Regionally, carloads were down 14.2 percent in the West and 17 percent in the East.
It was the same week last year that notable declines in rail carloads (2.4 percent) and rail intermodal (2.8 percent) traffic showed the first significant signs of the nation’s economic downturn. Therefore, year over comparisons for weekly rail traffic may appear to improve going forward.
Intermodal traffic totaled 206,139 trailers or containers, down 12.6 percent from a year ago. In the year-over-year comparison container volume fell 6.7 percent and trailer volume dropped 35.2 percent.
Eighteen of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were down from the same week last year. However, grain mill products were up 7.3 percent. Declines in commodity groups ranged from 2.7 percent for petroleum products to 74.7 percent for metallic ores.
For the first 41 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,930,879 carloads, down 18.1 percent from 2008; 7,762,379 trailers or containers, down 16.5 percent, and total volume of an estimated 1.17 trillion ton-miles, down 17.1 percent. Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending October 17 was estimated at 31 billion ton-miles, off 13.9 percent from the same week last year.
Sources: railfax, AAR