Econintersect: Week 34 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. Rail growth this week was continues to demonstrate an improving economy – even though the rate of growth is slowing.
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 are continuing to show a strong growth cycle albeit the rate of growth is slowing:
|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||4.3%||decelerating||decelerating|
|13 week rolling average||5.3%||decelerating||decelerating|
|52 week rolling average||4.3%||accelerating||accelerating|
A summary of the data from the AAR:
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported increased U.S. rail traffic for the week ending August 23, 2014 with 300,505 total carloads, up 3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 265,761 units, up 3.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 566,266 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Eight of 10 of the carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products with 16,396 carloads, up 28.4 percent; grain with 18,721 carloads, up 17.6 percent; and nonmetallic minerals with 40,279 carloads, up 10.5 percent. The commodities that posted a decrease were coal with 115,050 carloads, down 3.9 percent; and chemicals with 30,003 carloads, down 0.1 percent.
For the first 34 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,826,641 carloads, up 3.7 percent compared with the same point last year, and 8,730,830 intermodal units, up 5.7 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 34 weeks of 2014 was 18,557,471 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.6 percent from last year.
USA coal production is down 3.6% same week year-over-year – and coal accounts for well over 1/3rd 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 Year-over-Year||3.0%||3.4%||3.2%|
|Ignoring coal and grain||6.5%|
|Year Cumulative to Date||3.7%||5.7%||4.6%|
[click on graph below to enlarge]
Current Rail Chart
For the week ended August 23, 2014: