Week Ending 17March2012: Rail Is Continuing to Send Cautionary Economic Signals

March 22nd, 2012
in Background

Econintersect: Week 11 of 2012 ending 17 March 2012 shows rail traffic continued to contract over 2011 levels according to data released by the American Association of Railroads (AAR).

Eleven of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 32 percent; motor vehicles and equipment, up 15.5 percent, and stone, clay and glass products, up 11.3 percent. The groups showing a significant decrease in weekly traffic included farm products excluding grain, down 21.9 percent, and coal, down 14.7 percent. 

The pattern in the data is the same as it has been for almost a month. The majority of the reason for the contraction is coal movements - which would only effect the profitability of railroads, and not really an economic indicator as coal is an alternative fuel.  Also a concern is intermodal trailers - and until the American Trucking Association confirms tonnage hauled is up,  Econintersect's concern will remain.

Follow up:

Week 11 2012 Carloads Intermodal Total
This week Year-over-Year -5.3% 2.0% -4.2%
This week without coal
Year Cumulative to Date -1.8% 2.3% -0.8%



Note that the total year-to-date traffic are now contracting year-over-year.

Steven Hansen

Source: AAR

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