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Courtesy of the AAR:

“Railroads are beginning to bring cars out of storage – a promising sign there is growing demand to move more things by rail. However, to date, the improvements remain too small to judge whether they are the result of seasonal factors or indicators of an emerging recovery,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John Gray.

What are the latest numbers for U.S. railroads?

• U.S. freight railroads originated 1,116,182 carloads in August 2009, down 16.4% (218,593 carloads) from August 2008 and the 10th straight double-digit monthly carload decline.   However, the percentage decline in August was the lowest since February 2009.

• Average weekly carloads on U.S.  railroads in August 2009 (279,046) were more than 15,000 carloads higher than
in July 2009 and higher than any previous month in 2009, though seasonal factors account for some of
that increase — note the increase in August each year in the chart at right. (Coal mines, for example, often
undergo maintenance during July and ramp back up in August.) The last two weeks of August saw higher U.S.
carload traffic than any previous two week period in 2009.

• In August 2009, U.S. intermodal traffic (which is not included in the carload figures discussed above) totaled
784,262 trailers and containers, down 16.7% (157,238 units) from August 2008 (see charts at top of next page).

• However, the average weekly intermodal count on U.S. railroads in August 2009 was 196,066 trailers and
containers, up 11,500 units from July 2009 and the highest since January 2009. Intermodal traffic has perhaps
begun seeing the incremental improvement that carload traffic may be beginning to see.

• For the first eight months of 2009, U.S. rail carloadings were down 18.7% (2,073,250 carloads), while intermodal
traffic was down 17.1% (1,310,446 trailers and containers).

Rail Time Indicators September 2009-1

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