Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rail Traffic Declines Slightly in October

by Bill McBride on 11/12/2009 05:56:00 PM

Update: Title corrected to October.

From the Association of American Railroads: Rail Time Indicators

In October 2009, U.S. freight railroads originated 1,100,714 carloads, an average of 275,179 carloads per week. That’s down 15.3% from October 2008 (when the weekly average was 324,836 carloads) and down 0.3% from September 2009 (when the weekly average was 276,137 carloads). Average weekly carloads have now declined for two straight months.
The following graph from the AAR shows average weekly carloads in the U.S.

Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image in new window.

Rail traffic fell off a cliff at the end of 2008, and it appears traffic has stabilized at a lower level.

Traffic will probably decline in November and December (the normal seasonal pattern).

The second graph shows the year-over-year change for rail traffic.

Rail Traffic This is now a two year slump (like for the hotel occupancy rate), so the year-over-year decline will be significantly less in November and December.

The AAR report has a number of other graphs for various sectors like autos and housing. As an example they compare U.S. Housing Starts with U.S. and Canadian Rail Carloads
of Lumber, Wood & Forest Products.

For additional rail traffic, and a break down by carriers, see the Railfax report (ht Bob_in_MA)