WASHINGTON, D.C. – Aug. 12, 2010 – "The Association of American Railroads today reported only moderate gains in rail traffic for the week ending Aug. 7, 2010. U.S. railroads originated 284,507 carloads for the week, up 3.5 percent compared with the same week in 2009, but down 13 percent from the same week in 2008. In order to offer a complete picture of the progress in rail traffic, AAR reports 2010 weekly rail traffic with comparison weeks in both 2009 and 2008. Note that U.S. rail traffic fell sharply in fall 2008, when the financial crisis took hold.
Intermodal traffic totaled 231,208 trailers and containers, up 18.6 percent from the same week in 2009, but down 1.2 percent compared with 2008. Compared with the same week in 2009, container volume increased 19.8 percent and trailer volume rose 12 percent. Compared with the same week in 2008, container volume increased 6.8 percent and trailer volume dropped 30.7 percent.
Sixteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009, with metallic ores, up 61.2 percent, and metals and metal products, up 37.8 percent, posting the most significant increases. In comparison to 2008, all 19 commodity groups posted declines.
MP: The growth in intermodal freight traffic has been especially strong all year, with carload loadings showing slightly weaker improvements. Weekly intermodal traffic of 231,208 trailers and containers for week 31 was just slightly below last week's volume of 232,895, which was the highest weekly intermodal activity for all of both 2009 and 2010. This also marks the 30th consecutive week in 2010 of a positive weekly gain compared to the comparable week in 2009, and the gains have been double-digit improvements in 16 out of the last 20 weeks starting in February. And the container volume component of intermodal freight is above last year's level by 19.8%, and above the 2008 level by 6.8%.
Although this latest report is not quite as strong as last week's report when both carloads and intermodal freight set weekly records for 2009 and 2010, Warren Buffett's "favorite economic indicator" is still indicating improvements over last year for shipping activity by rail.