Week Ending 24March2012: Rail Is Continuing to Send Cautionary Economic Signals

March 29th, 2012
in econ_news

Econintersect: Week 12 of 2012 ending 24 March 2012 shows rail traffic continued to contract over 2011 levels according to data released by the American Association of Railroads (AAR).

Twelve of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 26.8 percent; coke, up 15.1 percent, and motor vehicles and equipment, up 13.8 percent. The groups showing a significant decrease in weekly traffic included coal, down 17.4 percent, and grain, down 14.2 percent.

The pattern in the data is the same as it has been for over 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.  Still, overall traffic is relatively weak even discounting for coal.

Follow up:

Week 11 2012 Carloads Intermodal Total
This week Year-over-Year -7.2% 4.2% -6.5%
This week without coal
Year Cumulative to Date -2.2% 2.4% -1.3%



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

Steven Hansen

Source: AAR

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