Econintersect: Week 23 of 2012 ending 09 June 2012 shows same week rail traffic again declined over 2011 levels according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Excluding coal which is not an economic indicator, rail is expanding 2.7% (last week's reported 3.4%) same week year-over-year. Growth excluding coal has been moderating in recent weeks.
“Ten of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 50.4 percent; motor vehicles and equipment, up 29.6 percent, and lumber and wood products, up 10.7 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included iron and steel scrap, down 21.2 percent; coke, down 12.7 percent, and grain, down 11.1 percent.”
A good background article on the switch of the power generating plants from coal to natural gas was published 30May2012 in the NYT. The week before GEI News had reported on the decline in coal usage over the past year.
The majority of the reason for rail contraction is coal movements - which would only effect the profitability of railroads, and not an economic indicator as coal is an alternative fuel to oil and natural gas - U.S. production of those are up sharply in recent months. This week rail growth was moderately positive when coal was removed from the calculation
|This week Year-over-Year||-3.7%||3.8%||-0.9%|
|This week without coal
|Year Cumulative to Date||-3.1%||3.0%||-2.3%|
Note that the total (cumulative) year-to-date traffic is contracting year-over-year.