Rail Week Ending 8 December 2012: Carloads sans Coal / Grain Continue to Strengthen

December 14th, 2012
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: Week 49 of 2012 ending 8 December 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 1.6% (versus last week's -2.0 %).
  • Excluding coal and grain (which are not an economic indicator), rail carloads expanded at 8.2% (last week +8.5%) same week year-over-year.
  • Intermodal same week traffic contracted 0.3% (versus last week's -1.1%)
  • Total same week traffic rail traffic contracted 3.0% (versus last week's -3.1%)

USA coal production is down 9.6% same week year-over-year (see below).

Follow up:

Twelve of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 59.5 percent; lumber wood and products, up 18.6 percent, and metallic ores, up 16.6 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included grain, down 15.3 percent; metals and products, down 11.9 percent, and coal, down 9.7 percent.

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 -1.6% -0.3% -1.7%
This week without coal and grain
Year Cumulative to Date -3.0% 3.2% -2.3%


Current Rail Chart


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

From EIA.gov:

For the week ended December 08, 2012:
  • U.S. coal production totaled approximately 20.0 million short tons (mmst)
  • This production estimate is 1.4 percent lower than last week's estimate and 9.6 percent lower than the production estimate in the comparable week in 2011
  • Coal production east of the Mississippi River totaled 8.5 mmst
  • Coal production west of the Mississippi River totaled 11.5 mmst
  • U.S. year-to-date coal production totaled 960.2 mmst, 6.6 percent lower than the comparable year-to-date coal production in 2011
  • An evaluation of the Weekly Coal Production Report has been done to compare full year 2011 estimates with full year 2011 actual Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) production. It is available under "Coal Production Estimates Evaluation".
  • Steven Hansen

    Source: AAR

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