FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.

posted on 26 February 2015

Rail Week Ending 21 February 2015: This Was a BAD Week

Econintersect: Week 7 of 2015 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) declined significantly according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. Intermodal traffic, which accounts for half of movements, continued to contract year-over-year. Although it is assumed part of the intermodal decline was caused by labor issues at the West Coast Ports, and another part was caused by a large decline in coal production - it does not explain a good portion of the decline.

The AAR contibuted to this drop by defining week 1 of 2015 as week 53 of 2014 which put comparable weeks one off the correct week. Still it is hard to tell if the labor issues at the West Coast Ports, coal production decline, and the comparable week being off one week explains all the decline.

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 0.5% decelerating decelerating
13 week rolling average 4.8% decelerating accelerating
52 week rolling average 5.0% decelerating decelerating

A summary of the data from the AAR:

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 21, 2015.

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 473,161 carloads and intermodal units, down 11.5 percent compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 21, 2015 were 259,544 carloads, down 7.8 percent compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 213,617 containers and trailers, down 15.7 percent compared to 2014.

Grain was the lone commodity group to post an increase compared with the same week in 2014, up 4 percent to 22,877 carloads. Commodity groups that saw decreases during this one week included: motor vehicles and parts, down 12.2 percent to 14,980 carloads, coal, down 12 percent to 96,096 carloads and metallic ores and metals, down 9.2 percent to 20,235 carloads.

For the first seven weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,982,993 carloads, up 3.7 percent from the same point last year, and 1,692,864 intermodal units, down 2.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first seven weeks of 2015 was 3,675,857 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8 percent from last year.

Coal is over 1/3 of the total railcar count, and this week is 13.3% lower than the production estimate in the comparable week in 2014. The middle row in the table below removes coal and grain from the changes in the railcar counts as neither of these commodities is economically intuitive.

This Week Carloads Intermodal Total
This week Year-over-Year -7.8% -15.7% -11.5%
Ignoring coal and grain -6.4%
Year Cumulative to Date 3.7% -2.3% -0.8%

[click on graph below to enlarge]

Current Rail Chart:

z rail1.png


For the week ended February 21, 2015:

  • Estimated U.S. coal production totaled approximately 16.5 million short tons (mmst)
  • This production estimate is 14.0% lower than last week's estimate and 13.3% lower than the production estimate in the comparable week in 2014
  • East of the Mississippi River coal production totaled 6.9 mmst
  • West of the Mississippi River coal production totaled 9.6 mmst
  • U.S. year-to-date coal production totaled 139.6 mmst, 0.8% higher than the comparable year-to-date coal production in 2014

Steven Hansen

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Permanent link to most recent post on this topic

Click here for Historical Releases Listing

Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.

You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.

Econintersect Economic Releases


Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF

The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.

Take a look at what is going on inside of
Main Home
Analysis Blog
From Money Controlling People to People Controlling Money
Rising Tide Does Not Lift All Ships
News Blog
How The Space Station Avoids Junk In Space
Infographic Of The Day: The Most Popular Jobs In A Decade
Early And Late Cycle Verdicts Are Baseless
The Surprising Divergence Of Employment And Capacity Utilization
The Slump In Undocumented Immigration To The United States
U.S. Productivity Growth Flowing Downstream
Your Light Bulbs Could Be Playing Havoc With Your Health - Here's Why
Mentions Of Trump And Clinton In Hip Hop Lyrics
Salary Is The Most Important Job Criterion
Can Switch Replicate Nintendos Past Success
The Numbers Behind The Zumwalt
Docking A Huge Cruise Ship Is More Complicated Than You Think
New Seasonal Outlook Updates from NOAA and JAMSTEC - Let's Compare Them.
Investing Blog
FinTech Is Taking A Bite Out Of Banks
Options Early Assignment - Should You Worry?
Opinion Blog
The Beer Goggles Stock Market
US 2016 Election: Will US-China Relations Change
Precious Metals Blog
Preparing For Post-Election Social Unrest
Live Markets
21Oct2016 Market Close: Major US Indexes Close Flat On Low Volume, Crude Prices Resume Climb, US Dollar Stabilizes In Mid 98 Handle, Yes, Most Investors Are Worried Which Way This Market Will Go
Amazon Books & More

.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

Crowdfunding ....



Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day


Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution



  Top Economics Site Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved