Thursday, August 26, 2010

Weekly Intermodal Rail Volume Sets 2010 Record

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Aug. 26, 2010 – "The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported rail intermodal volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Aug. 21, 2010 set a new 2010 record for the second consecutive week, with 236,404 total trailers and containers (see top chart), up 22.4 percent from the same week in 2009 (see bottom chart), and up 2.6 percent compared with 2008. Weekly container volume, a subset of intermodal, was the highest on record, also for the second consecutive week, up 24.2 percent compared with the same week in 2009, and up 11.5 percent with the same week in 2008. Trailer volume, the other subset of intermodal, rose 12.4 percent last week compared with the same week in 2009, but fell 30.5 percent compared with 2008.

Carload traffic continued moderate weekly gains, with U.S. railroads originating 296,634 carloads for the week (see top chart), up 6.2 percent compared with the same week in 2009 (see top chart), but down 11 percent from the same week in 2008."

Bottom Line: As I reported last week, Warren Buffett's favorite economic indicator continued to show signs of improvement again in this week's report from the AAR on rail traffic. Based on the volume of raw materials, natural resources, lumber, coal, grains, chemicals, metals, motor vehicles and paper products moving around the country by rail, the economic picture continues to get a little brighter almost every week.


At 8/26/2010 2:12 PM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

Why is the redline trending down? It looks like it will hit zero growth in a couple more months.

At 8/26/2010 9:50 PM, Blogger andyweintraub said...

This obviously reflects the uptick in the manufacturing sector, the output of which must be moved around. Whether it's a good indicator of general economic activity is the question, since the service sector swamps the manufacturing sector in terms of employment, and with the exception of health, it's not doing well.

But this raises another question: Why is the manufacturing sector experiencing growth at this time?

At 8/27/2010 9:46 AM, Blogger morganovich said...


to what manufacturing growth are you referring? both the philly and the KC fed regional surveys are showing contraction.

i suspect this increase has more to do with overall trade. (I+X)

it may also have to do with commodity prices. the biggest gainers in terms of volume carried are metal ores.

but, as the revision today shows, this does not necessarily drive GDP.

At 8/27/2010 8:19 PM, Blogger curt said...

Probably need to check the coal deliveries for any uptrend in 2010. Natural gas was so cheap at the end of 08 & 09 and many power generators switched to combined cycles and didn't take delivery unless contracted. Coal is maybe 25-30% of rail traffic.


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