Rail Traffic’s Bumpy Ride Continues

Rail traffic is bumpy as usual at this time of year so its’ not easy to take away much from this week’s swing, but we saw a big reversal from last week’s dip as intermodal traffic jumped 10.4% versus last year.   The 12 week moving average is up to 1.92% which is still consistent with a weak economy.

AAR has more info:

“The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported mixed weekly rail traffic for the week ending January 12, 2013, with U.S. railroads originating 279,893 carloads, down 6.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 252,896 trailers and containers, up 10.4 percent compared with the same week last year.

Thirteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, with petroleum products, up 47.7 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 17.5 percent, and lumber and wood products, up 15.5 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included iron and steel scrap, down 22.1 percent; metallic ores, down 18.6 percent, and coal, down 16 percent.

Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was down 3.6 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was down 8.1 percent compared with the same week in 2012.

For the first two weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 521,575 carloads, down 9.1 percent from the same point last year, and 431,213 trailers and containers, up 1.9 percent from last year.”


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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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  1. can we take anything from “crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 17.5 percent, and lumber and wood products, up 15.5 percent.” like the real estate surge is having an impact?

    Call me crazy, but I think these numbers are about to start moving up. (my 3rd comment like this in the last few hours and nobody has bitten, so maybe I am crazy)

  2. The analyst at AAR post data on a monthly basis that takes out Coal and Grain– The trend of whats left seems to trac the trend of GDP

    My data on 26wk totals (stripped) peaks about OCT/Nov and a Low around Feb/Mar—I use this data to get a feel for the transports not as a trading tool

    CR: your post on Inflation was genuine and balanced

    I wonder if the folks at CNBC will use your “Inflation Number” the next time they get orgasmic on “Retail Sales”

  3. The 4wk avg is a poor guide to rail traffic
    Zero Hedge Data has Coal and Grain included
    Take out Coal and Grain and you will see a different chart!

    Know one would ever confuse AWF as being a “Bull”

    You can download the AAR Wkly and monthly Data https://www.aar.org/Pages/Home.aspx

    Statistics and Publications

    The Flip side–just becaused its been transported does not mean its been “Sold”–Inventory level (Dec/Jan/Feb) could be a guide?