Rail Week Ending 06 October 2012: Coal's Headwinds Continue to Degrade Rail Data

October 11th, 2012
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: Week 40 of 2012 ending 06 October 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 6.3% (versus last week's -5.3%).
  • Excluding coal and grain (which are not an economic indicator), rail carloads expanded at 4.6% (last week +4.5%) same week year-over-year.
  • Intermodal same week traffic grew 3.8% (versus last week's +2.5%)
  • Total same week traffic rail traffic contracted 5.7% (versus last week's -5.3%)

Follow up:


“Ten of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 46.1 percent; farm products excluding grain, up 30 percent, and lumber and wood products, up 11.2 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included coal, down 18.1 percent; iron and steel scrap, down 17.9 percent, and waste and nonferrous scrap, down 11.5 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 -6.3% 3.8% -5.7%
This week without coal and grain
Year Cumulative to Date -2.6% 3.7% -2.2%


Current Rail Chart


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

Steven Hansen

Source: AAR

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