Rail Traffic Continues to Post Gains vs. Last Year
The Association of American Railroads released its weekly update today on rail traffic through last week, reporting that rail activity continues to show improvements compared to the same weeks last year. Highlights include:
1. U.S. railroads originated 282,199 carloads for the week ending July 17, 2010, up 5.5% compared with the same week in 2009, but down 13.8% from pre-recession levels in 2008.
2. Intermodal traffic totaled 227,661 trailers and containers, up 20.1% from the same week a year ago and down only 2.5% compared with 2008. Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume increased 22.1% and trailer volume rose 10%. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume increased 5.6% and trailer volume dropped 32.5%.
3. For the first 28 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,874,125 carloads, up 7.3% from 2009, but down 13.2% from 2008, and 5,855,507 trailers or containers, up 13.1% from 2009, but down 6.4% from 2008.
4. Combined North American rail volume for the first 28 weeks of 2010 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 10,278,759 carloads, up 10.3% from last year, and 7,319,184 trailers and containers, up 13.8% from last year.
MP: Overall, this was a fairly positive report, despite the AAR's headline "Weekly Rail Traffic Continues to Reflect Sluggish Economy." Compared to the same week last year, both carload and intermodal volumes were up, by 5.5% and 20.1% respectively. The graph above displays 4-week moving average growth rates for both series (to smooth out the weekly fluctuations), and shows ongoing weekly improvements in rail traffic compared to last year, especially for intermodal shipping. Intermodal traffic volume has registered year-to-year gains for 30 straight weeks, starting late last December; and the last 20 weeks have all been double-digit gains.