Rail Week Ending 18August2012: Carloads Down but Still Shows Economic Growth

August 23rd, 2012
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: Week 33 of 2012 ending 18 August shows same week total rail traffic decreased somewhat from 2011 levels according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). The carload portion of rail traffic showed same week traffic contracted 2.1%.

Excluding coal and grain which is not an economic indicator, rail carloads expanded at 3.3% (last week 2.4%) same week year-over-year.

“Ten of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 45.6 percent; farm products excluding grain, up 37.4 percent, and lumber and wood products, up 16.4 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included metallic ores, down 29 percent, and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 25.6 percent.

Follow up:

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 year-to-date contraction is coal and grain 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.


This Week
Carloads Intermodal Total
This week Year-over-Year -2.1% 3.6% -0.9%
This week without coal and grain
Year Cumulative to Date -2.4% 3.6% -1.6%


Current Rail Chart


Total (cumulative) year-to-date traffic is contracting year-over-year.

Steven Hansen

Source: AAR

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