Rail traffic remains well under its 2006 peak, and the growth is flat against 2010. The fly-in-the-ointment is growth is coming from a single sector of rail transport – intermodal which is the transport of containers and trailers on rail cars.
What is happening on the USA steel roadways (railroads) is a direct reflection of the state of the USA economy. April 2011 has presented a positive – but mixed and less good – picture of the traffic on the railroads. A majority of goods we buy has ridden on rails at some point.
For the year to date through April, The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported total U.S. rail carloadings in April 2011 were up 3.8% (180,791 carloads) over the same period in 2010. Railfax, which reports on weekly cycles (not monthly) says the 4 week moving average is up YoY 3.7% using a 30 April 2011 cutoff (analysis here). The weakness of the latest data is that the March to April growth for 2011 is less than other recent years, except for 2009 when the economy was crashing into the final quarter of The Great Recession.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has announced at 2.9% decline in February tonnage hauled.
Trucking tonnage in the U.S. is up in September, but the American Trucking Association offers some cautionary qualifications.