Rail Traffic: Still No Signs of Recession

Rail traffic continues to be a bright spot in the US economy though growth has definitely slowed some in recent months.  This week’s traffic trends showed a rise in intermodal traffic at a 2.4% year over year rate.  That brings the 3 month average to 2.35%.  I think this data is one of many indicators that continues to point to a sluggish, but expanding US economy.

Here’s more via the AAR:

“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed weekly rail traffic for the week ending November 17, 2012, with U.S. railroads originating 288,717 carloads, down 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 249,115 trailers and containers, up 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year.

Eight of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 54.2 percent; motor vehicles and equipment, up 16.3 percent, and primary forest products, up 14.8 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included metallic ores, down 15.8 percent; grain, down 13.4 percent, and nonmetallic minerals, down 12.4 percent.

Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 4.5 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was down 4.1 percent compared with the same week in 2011.

For the first 46 weeks of 2012, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 13,037,190 carloads, down 3 percent from the same point last year, and 10,943,385 trailers and containers, up 3.4 percent from last year.”

(Chart via Orcam Investment Research)


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Cullen Roche

Mr. Roche is the Founder of Orcam Financial Group, LLC. Orcam is a financial services firm offering research, private advisory, institutional consulting and educational services.

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  • Ben

    But both CSX and NSC are near 52-week low….perhaps it is just an eastern railroad thing.

  • Cowpoke

    “grain, down 13.4 percent”

    Hope that’s not a sign of price increases at the grocery store

  • http://www.nowandfutures.com bart

    TOTAL rail traffic, regular + intermodal, is down 2% YoY and has been in minus YoY mode for 2.5 months.

    Waste, non ferrous, has been down YoY for many months (last week -5.3% YoY) and is a decent predictor of a recession.

  • http://www.nowandfutures.com bart

    Union Pacific has been down YoY since March, -11.3% most recent week.