The latest weekly rail data from the AAR showed another strong week of gains. Carloads were up moderately compared to 2009 and down compared to 2008, however, intermodal traffic continues to set 2010 records:

“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, up 22.4 percent from the same week in 2009, 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.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.

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

Fourteen of the 19 carload commodity groups increased from the comparable week in 2009. Those posting the most significant increases were metallic ores, up 54.6 percent, and metals and metal products, up 43 percent. All 19 carload commodity groups were down in comparison to 2008.

Carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 6.1 percent from the same week last year, but down 14 percent from 2008. In the West, carload volume was up 6.2 percent from the same week last year but down 8.9 percent from two years ago.

For the first 33 weeks of 2010, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,338,360 carloads, up 7.1 percent from 2009, but down 13 percent from 2008, and 7,020,224 trailers or containers, up 14.2 percent from 2009, but down 5.4 percent from 2008.”

Source: AAR


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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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  • Jon

    How great would it be if EVERYTHING ELSE was wrong, and the rail data was correct in presaging a decent recovery?

    Hey, a kid can dream.

  • http://www.pragcap.com TPC

    The rail data lagged on the way up in 2009….I am beginning to wonder if it’s not lagging on the way down….

  • http://egghead168.blogspot.com/ egghead

    Does anyone know the percentage breakdown in terms of total volume of shipments between rail and trucks? Which one is more significant?

  • George H

    This just baffles me. It has amazed me for many months. How can the rail traffic continues to be strong when most economists, who have been consistently over-optimistic and wrong, revised their Q2 GDP down to 1%?

    Import is big factor. The only possible explanation is the consumers are mostly buying imports, not U. S. products. If so, this is another indication how bad and what a failure the administration’s economic policy is. It has been a disaster to the American people.

  • paydreaux

    As someone intimated about this last week, we could be seeing a transfer of trucking volume to rail volume as business looks for cheaper modes of transportation.

    Maybe Mr. Buffet wasn’t so dumb in buying a railroad.

  • billw

    Guys this is another no brainer, and I am just passing along what has been mentioned several other places as well. Companies are making a strong effort to move as much of their transport needs to rail as possible because it is much cheaper. In better economic times trucking would have the upper hand ( it is quicker) because of the need to get product to the market ahead of competition. In deflationary times it is more important to reduce costs.