Econintersect: Week 42 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 generally are in a general growth cycle – even though this week’s data is softer.
|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||3.8%||decelerating||decelerating|
|13 week rolling average||3.9%||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. 18, 2014 with 297,130 total carloads, up 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year. Total U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 272,554 units, up 3 percent compared with the same week last year. Total combined U.S. weekly rail traffic was 569,684 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week last year.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2013, including petroleum and petroleum products with 16,015 carloads, up 17.4 percent, and nonmetallic minerals with 39,308 carloads, up 12.5 percent. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2013 were led by chemicals with 28,843 carloads, down 4.6 percent.
For the first 42 weeks of 2014, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,218,003 carloads, up 3.6 percent compared with the same point last year, and 10,900,493 units, up 5.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 42 weeks of 2014 was 23,118,496 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.4 percent from last year.
Coal is over 1/3 of the total railcar count, and this week is 3.2% 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||2.7%||3.0%||2.9%|
|Ignoring coal and grain||4.1%|
|Year Cumulative to Date||3.6%||5.4%||4.4%|
[click on graph below to enlarge]
Current Rail Chart
For the week ended October 18, 2014: