Econintersect: Week 49 of 2014 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) improved according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. The rate of growth again improved in all of the rolling averages reported below.
This analysis is looking for clues in the rail data to show the direction of economic activity - and is not necessarily looking for clues of profitability of the railroads. The weekly data is fairly noisy, and the best way to view it is to look at the rolling averages which generally are in a general growth cycle.
Percent current rolling average is larger than the rolling average of one year ago
Current quantities accelerating or decelerating
Current rolling average accelerating or decelerating compared to the rolling average one year ago
4 week rolling average
13 week rolling average
52 week rolling average
A summary of the data from the AAR:
Today, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Dec. 6, 2014, with 311,955 total carloads, up 11.7 percent compared with the same week in 2013. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 268,153 units, up 2.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 580,108 carloads and intermodal units, up 7 percent compared with the same week last year.
Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including grain with 25,819 carloads, up 25.5 percent; nonmetallic minerals with 36,076 carloads, up 17 percent; and, metallic ores and metals with 28,285 carloads, up 14.8 percent. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2013 included farm products, excluding grain and food, with 17,539 carloads, down 0.2 percent.
For the first 49 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 14,304,515 carloads, up 3.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 12,762,286 intermodal units, up 5.2 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 49 weeks of 2014 was 27,066,801 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3 percent from last year.
Coal is over 1/3 of the total railcar count, and this week is 12.3% higher than the production estimate in the comparable week in 2013. The middle line on the table below removes coal and grain from the changes in the railcar counts as neither of these commodities is economically intuitive.
This week Year-over-Year
Ignoring coal and grain
Year Cumulative to Date
[click on graph below to enlarge]
Current Rail Chart
For the week ended December 6, 2014: