Rail Week Ending 4 January 2014: Good Start to Year

January 10th, 2014
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: Week 1 of 2014 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) showed good growth according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). The last two weeks of traffic reported have been strong.


Follow up:

  • Four week rolling average rate of growth is decelerating, but compared to the rolling average one year ago is accelerating;
  • 13 week rolling average rate of growth is decelerating, but compared to the rolling average one year ago is accelerating;
  • 52 week rolling average rate of growth is accelerating, and compared to the rolling average one year ago is accelerating.

A summary of the data from the AAR:

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported that U.S. rail traffic for 2013 saw record intermodal growth with a slight full year decrease in carloadings. U.S. rail intermodal volume totaled a record 12.8 million containers and trailers in 2013, up 4.6 percent or 564,276 units, over 2012. Carloads totaled 14.6 million in 2013, down 0.5 percent or 76,784 carloads, from 2012. Intermodal volume in 2013 was the highest on record, surpassing the record high totals of 2006 by 549,471 units.

In 2013, 11 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked annually by AAR saw increases on U.S. railroads compared with 2012. The categories with sizable gains were: petroleum and petroleum products, up 167,868 carloads or 31.1 percent; crushed stone, gravel and sand, up 81,023 carloads or 8.3 percent; motor vehicles and parts, up 41,166 carloads or 5.1 percent, and waste and nonferrous scrap, up 14,472 carloads or 9.1 percent.

The commodities with the largest carload declines in 2013 compared with 2012 were: coal, down 256,751 carloads or 4.3 percent; grain, down 81,309 carloads or 8 percent, and metallic ores, down 37,068 carloads or 9.9 percent. However, excluding coal and grain, those U.S. rail carloads which are reflective of the economy were up 261,276 carloads or 3.4 percent in 2013 over 2012.

“2013 ended the way it began — strong intermodal, weak coal, and mixed performance for other commodities, resulting in a year for rail traffic that could have been much better but also could have been much worse,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “A variety of indicators seem to be saying that the economy is slowly strengthening; a trend we expect to continue in 2014.”

AAR also announced mixed December 2013 rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 1,078,903 carloads, down 0.9 percent from December 2012. U.S. rail intermodal originations totaled 958,778 containers and trailers in December 2013, up 8 percent over December 2012. During December 2013, eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR saw increases compared with December 2012.

For the first week of 2014 ending January 4, AAR reported increased rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 246,846 carloads, up 2.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 186,878 trailers and containers, up 4.8 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first week of 2014 was 433,724 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent from last year.

Seven of 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including: petroleum and petroleum products, up 20.2 percent; nonmetallic minerals and products, up 17.8 percent, and chemicals, up 13 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included motor vehicles and parts, down 27 percent, and metallic ores and metals, down 10.7 percent.

USA coal production is up 5.8% same week year-over-year - and coal accounts for almost half of carloads.

This Week
Carloads Intermodal Total
This week Year-over-Year 2.1% 4.8% 3.2%
Ignoring coal and grain 5.1%
Year Cumulative to Date 2.1% 4.8% 3.2%

[click on graph below to enlarge]

Current Rail Chart

/images/z rail1.png

From EIA.gov:

For the week ended January 04, 2014:

  • U.S. coal production totaled approximately 18.8 million short tons (mmst)
  • This production estimate is 5.8% higher than last week's estimate and 2.1% higher than the production estimate in the comparable week in 2013
  • Coal production east of the Mississippi River totaled 7.3 mmst
  • Coal production west of the Mississippi River totaled 11.5 mmst
  • U.S. year-to-date coal production totaled 10.5 mmst, 8.0% lower than the comparable year-to-date coal production in 2013
  • Source: AAR



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