Rail Week Ending 29September2012: Intermodal at 2012 High

October 4th, 2012
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: Week 39 of 2012 ending 29 September shows same week total rail traffic was below 2011 levels according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

  • The carload portion of rail traffic showed same week traffic contracted 5.3% (versus last week's -4.1%).
  • Excluding coal and grain which is not an economic indicator, rail carloads expanded at 4.5% (last week +1.5%) same week year-over-year.
  • Intermodal same week traffic grew 2.5% (versus last week's +0.7%)
  • Total same week traffic rail traffic contracted 5.3% (versus last week's -3.1%)

Follow up:


“AAR today also announced mixed weekly rail traffic for the week ending Sept. 29, 2012, with U.S. railroads originating 295,243 carloads, down 5.3 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 257,225 trailers and containers, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year. This week’s U.S. intermodal originations of 257,225 represent the highest weekly total of the year and the third highest weekly intermodal total ever.

Fourteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 59.4 percent; iron and steel scrap, up 16.6 percent, and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 14.7 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included metallic ores, down 19.6 percent; coal, down 17.3, and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 11.3 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 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 -5.3% 2.5% -5.3%
This week without coal and grain
Year Cumulative to Date -2.5% 3.6% -1.7%


Current Rail Chart


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

Steven Hansen

Source: AAR

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