posted on 11 August 2016
Week 31 of 2016 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) contracted according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. The four and 13 week rolling averages' contraction continues to moderate - but the 52 week rolling average continue to degrade.
The contraction began over one year ago, and now rail movements are being compared against weaker 2015 data - and this is the cause some acceleration in the short term rolling averages. Still, rail is weak to very week compared to previous years.
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 (carloads and intermodal combined).
A summary of the data from the AAR:
Coal is over 1/3 of the total railcar count, and this week is 14.5 % lower than the production estimate in the comparable week in 2015. 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.
[click on graph below to enlarge]
Current Rail Chart:
For the week ended August 6, 2016
Coal production from EIA.gov
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