Danger: Rail Traffic Contraction Growing

September 8th, 2011
in econ_news

Econintersect:  Econintersect uses transports as a guage of economic activity.  A contraction in movements of materials is a NEGATIVE and recessionary sign.

Rail traffic has contracted for the third time since August in week 35 of 2011 ending 03 September 2011 according to rail data provided by Railfax.

Rail performance year to date for 2011 has been in an overall downtrend. The four week trendline was holding steady between 3% to 4% year-over-year improvement until the last weeks in June. Now the 4 week average became negative at a 0.2% decline year-over-year. Econintersect believes low growth over 2010 is an economic warning that a recession is possible.

Follow up:

The major weakness comes from coal transport which the 4 week average is now a negative 2.5% year-over-year.   Coal is a major portion of rail car loadings.  Coal is a commodity which can be substituted for other sources of energy - and the lower counts are not necessarily indicative of a contracting economy.  On the other hand, intermodal transport is a good economic indicator - the 4 week average has declined to 0.0% year-over-year expansion, and the week-to-week comparison negative for the second week in a row (-1.3%).

Year-to-date gains have fallen from 3.7% to 3.6%.

Total US Rail Traffic

Major Commodity Groups Total Grain Chemicals Food Forest Metals Coal Autos Intermodal
Current Week
Vs. 2010 (0.8%) (21.5%) 0.2% 1.7% 5.3% 12.5% (1.9%) 10.4% (1.3%)
Vs. 2009 10.6% (10.1%) 8.8% 2.8% 9.3% 38.2% 2.3% 1.5% 16.5%
4 Week Rolling Avg.
Vs. 2010 (0.2%) (16.0%) 3.1% 1.0% 2.6% 10.6% (2.5%) 7.7% (0.0%)
Vs. 2009 11.6% (9.8%) 8.8% 2.4% 7.1% 38.3% 0.4% 18.5% 19.5%
Quarter to Date
Vs. 2010 0.0% (12.1%) 3.7% (1.1%) 3.1% 10.7% (4.1%) 8.1% 0.8%
Vs. 2009 10.7% (6.3%) 9.4% (0.7%) 6.0% 39.7% (3.3%) 21.1% 19.4%
Year to Date
Vs. 2010 3.6% 2.9% 4.9% (2.5%) 3.6% 8.8% (0.7%) 7.4% 5.8%
Vs. 2009 14.1% 16.1% 15.6% 0.4% 7.1% 55.2% (1.4%) 40.6% 21.1%

 

 

source: Railfax









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