Econintersect: Week 40 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 continues to demonstrate an improving economy – and the rate of growth compared to the rolling averages one year ago accelerated.
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 marginally below the growth seen a few months ago.
|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||4.0%||accelerating||accelerating|
|13 week rolling average||4.2%||accelerating||decelerating|
|52 week rolling average||4.4%||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 Oct. 4, 2014 with 299,674 total carloads, up 7.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 276,682 units, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 576,356 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.6 percent compared with the same week last year.
All 10 of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products with 16,037 carloads, up 26.9 percent; forest products with 11,622 carloads, up 10.9 percent; and coal with 107,884 carloads, up 8.9 percent.
For the first 40 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,622,497 carloads, up 3.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 10,354,012 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 40 weeks of 2014 was 21,976,509 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent from last year.
Coal is over 1/3 of the total railcar count, and this week is 10.2% higher than the production estimate in the comparable week in 2013. 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||7.4%||3.7%||5.6%|
|Ignoring coal and grain||7.3%|
|Year Cumulative to Date||3.5%||5.5%||4.5%|
[click on graph below to enlarge]
Current Rail Chart
For the week ended October 4, 2014: