Rail Week Ending 15 February 2014: Rail Now Contracting Year-To-Date

February 20th, 2014
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: Week 7 of 2014 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) contracted according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. The rolling averages are decelerating, and the 4 week rolling average is contracting compared to the rolling average one year ago.


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 -0.7% decelerating decelerating
13 week rolling average 1.4% decelerating decelerating
52 week rolling average 1.9% decelerating decelerating

A summary of the data from the AAR:

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported decreased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 15, 2014 with 270,632 total U.S. carloads, down 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 236,625 units down 5.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 507,257 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.3 percent compared with the same week last year.

Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products with 14,234 carloads, up 7.9 percent; and grain with 19,137 carloads, up 2.5 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year included nonmetallic minerals and products with 26,660 carloads, down 10.6 percent.

For the first seven weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,877,070 carloads, down 0.8 percent from the same point last year, and 1,666,024 intermodal units, up 0.1 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first seven weeks of 2014 was 3,543,094 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.4 percent from last year.

USA coal production is down 2.8% same week year-over-year - and coal accounts for almost half of carloads.

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 -2.9% -5.7% -4.3%
Ignoring coal and grain -4.3%
Year Cumulative to Date -0.8% 0.1% -0.4%


[click on graph below to enlarge]


Current Rail Chart


/images/z rail1.png

From EIA.gov:

For the week ended February 15, 2014:

  • U.S. coal production totaled approximately 19.2 million short tons (mmst)
  • This production estimate is 6.7% higher than last week's estimate and 2.8% lower than the production estimate in the comparable week in 2013
  • Coal production east of the Mississippi River totaled 7.9 mmst
  • Coal production west of the Mississippi River totaled 11.2 mmst
  • U.S. year-to-date coal production totaled 123.0 mmst, 3.0% lower than the comparable year-to-date coal production in 2013
  • Source:

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