Friday, September 03, 2010

Rail Traffic increases 5.7% in August compared to August 2009

by Bill McBride on 9/03/2010 04:12:00 PM

From the Association of American Railroads: Rail Time Indicators. The AAR reports traffic in August 2010 was up 5.7% compared to August 2009 - and traffic was 11.6% lower than in August 2008.

However traffic declined 1.6% from July on a Seasonally Adjusted (SA) basis.

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

This graph shows U.S. average weekly rail carloads (NSA). Traffic increased in 16 of 19 major commodity categories year-over-year.

From AAR:

• U.S. freight railroads originated 1,179,447 carloads in August 2010, an average of 294,862 carloads per week. That’s up 5.7% from August 2009 though down 11.6% from August 2008 on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. It’s also the highest weekly average for any month since November 2008 and reverses a string of three straight months in which average unadjusted carloads fell in absolute terms.

• However, on a seasonally adjusted basis, U.S. rail carloads fell 1.6% in August 2010 from July 2010. As the chart below ... shows, on an unadjusted basis rail traffic almost always increases from July to August. In that chart, note the upward slope of the line segment from July 2010 to August 2010. That slope is not as steep as the line segments for the same period in most other years on the graph, or for most prior years not shown on the chart. In a nutshell, that explains why seasonally adjusted rail traffic in August 2010 is down a bit when unadjusted traffic is up.
excerpts with permission
As the graph above shows, rail traffic collapsed in November 2008, and now, a year into the recovery, traffic has only recovered part way.