Rail Week Ending 25 January 2014: Rolling Averages Mixed

January 31st, 2014
in econ_news

Econintersect: Week 4 of 2014 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) was relatively good (but mixed) according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. The rolling averages are mixed, but show growth.


Follow up:

The weekly data is fairly noisy, and the best way to view it is to look at the rolling averages:

Percent current rolling average  is larger than the rolling average of one year ago Current rate of growth accelerating or decelerating Current rolling average accelerating or decelerating compared to the rolling average one year ago
4 week rolling average 1.6% accelerating decelerating
13 week rolling average 3.6% decelerating accelerating
52 week rolling average 2.2% accelerating accelerating

A summary of the data from the AAR:

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 25, 2014 with 280,761 total U.S. carloads, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 245,883 units up 3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 526,644 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year.

Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including grain with 23,175 carloads, up 24.4 percent; and, petroleum and petroleum products with 15,211 carloads, up 13.1 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included metallic ores and metals with 22,539 carloads, down 1.8 percent.

For the first four weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,074,281 carloads, up 0.9 percent from the same point last year, and 936,176 intermodal units, up 1.8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first four weeks of 2014 was 2,010,457 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.3 percent from last year.

USA coal production is up 2.0% same week year-over-year - and coal accounts for almost half of carloads. The data would worse ignoring coal and grain.

Here is a look at the weekly data comparing it to the same week one year ago, backing out economically less intuitive coal and grain, and comparing growth year-to-date.

This Week
Carloads Intermodal Total
This week Year-over-Year 5.6% 3.0% 4.4%
Ignoring coal and grain 7.4%
Year Cumulative to Date 0.9% 1.8% 1.3%


[click on graph below to enlarge]


Current Rail Chart


/images/z rail1.png

From EIA.gov:

For the week ended January 25, 2014:

  • U.S. coal production totaled approximately 19.2 million short tons (mmst)
  • This production estimate is 0.6% higher than last week's estimate and 2.0% higher than the production estimate in the comparable week in 2013
  • Coal production east of the Mississippi River totaled 7.7 mmst
  • Coal production west of the Mississippi River totaled 11.5 mmst
  • U.S. year-to-date coal production totaled 67.1 mmst, 2.9% lower than the comparable year-to-date coal production in 2013
  • Source:

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