Rail Week Ending December 22, 2012: Traffic Is Up Year-over-Year

December 28th, 2012
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: Week 51 of 2012 ending December 22 shows same week total rail traffic was slightly above 2011 levels according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

  • The carload portion of rail traffic showed same week traffic grew 0.9% (versus last week's -3.9%).
  • Excluding coal and grain (which are not an economic indicator), rail carloads expanded at 13.6% (last week +6.4%) same week year-over-year.
  • Intermodal same week traffic expanded 10.2% (versus last week's +8.0%)
  • Total same week traffic rail traffic expanded 3.0% (versus last week's -3.0%)

USA coal production is down 11.7% same week year-over-year (see below - data was not updated on government website from last week), and the cumulative effect on rail carloads continues to drag traffic down.

Follow up:

Fifteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2011, with petroleum products, up 71.5 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 29.5; and lumber and wood products, up 27.3 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included metallic ores, down 26.3 percent; and coal, down 11.1 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 +0.9% +10.2% +1.8%
This week without coal and grain
Year Cumulative to Date -3.0% 3.4% -2.2%


[click on graph below to enlarge]

Current Rail Chart

/images/z rail1.png


/images/z rail2.PNG

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

From EIA.gov:

For the week ended December 15, 2012:

  • U.S. coal production totaled approximately 19.8 million short tons (mmst)
  • This production estimate is 1.2 percent lower than last week's estimate and 11.7 percent lower than the production estimate in the comparable week in 2011
  • Coal production east of the Mississippi River totaled 8.6 mmst
  • Coal production west of the Mississippi River totaled 11.2 mmst
  • U.S. year-to-date coal production totaled 980.3 mmst, 6.6 percent lower than the comparable year-to-date coal production in 2011
  • As of week ending December 15, third quarter 2012 production estimates have been revised to match actual third quarter 2012 Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) production. These revised values can be found under the "Revisons/Archives" section, and are also included in any year to date totals and 52 weeks ended totals in the "Current Weekly Estimates" and "Current Monthly Estimates" data tables. The "1st week in 2002- current week" and "January 2002- current month" original estimates spreadsheets are not revised.
  • Source: AAR

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