Rail Week Ending 08 March 2014: Rail Growth Continues to be Sluggish

March 13th, 2014
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: Week 10 of 2014 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) grew according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. The rolling averages are mixed, but the overall feel of the data is fairly soft for a period of economic expansion.


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% accelerating accelerating
13 week rolling average 1.3% decelerating decelerating
52 week rolling average 1.9% accelerating decelerating

A summary of the data from the AAR:

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported that U.S. Class I railroads originated 108,590 carloads of crude oil in the fourth quarter of 2013, bringing total Class I crude oil originations for the year to 407,642 carloads. This is a 74 percent increase over the 233,819 carloads originated in 2012. In 2013, crude oil accounted for 1.4 percent of total U.S. Class I originations.

AAR also reported mixed U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 8, 2014 with 274,480 total U.S. carloads, down 1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 244,015 units, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 518,495 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent compared with the same week last year.

Five of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by AAR on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, such as petroleum and petroleum products with 14,779 carloads, up 11.3 percent. Commodities showing a decrease compared with the same week last year such as motor vehicles and parts with 16,980 carloads, down 6.7 percent.

For the first 10 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,270,522 carloads, down 0.4 percent from the same point last year, and 2,421,107 intermodal units, up 1.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 10 weeks of 2014 was 5,141,629 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.5 percent from last year.

USA coal production is down 3.1% 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 -1.0% 3.7% 1.2%
Ignoring coal and grain -0.5%
Year Cumulative to Date -0.4% 1.4% 0.5%


[click on graph below to enlarge]


Current Rail Chart


/images/z rail1.png

From EIA.gov:

For the week ended March 08, 2014:

  • U.S. coal production totaled approximately 18.7 million short tons (mmst)
  • This production estimate is 3.4% lower than last week's estimate and 3.1% 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 10.8 mmst
  • U.S. year-to-date coal production totaled 179.9 mmst, 2.9% lower than the comparable year-to-date coal production in 2013

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