Monday, November 08, 2010

AAR: October 2010 Rail Traffic Continues Mixed Progress

by Bill McBride on 11/08/2010 05:06:00 PM

From the Association of American Railroads: October 2010 Rail Traffic Continues Mixed Progress. The AAR reports carload traffic in October 2010 was up 8.7% compared to October 2009, however carload traffic was still 7.9% lower than in October 2008. Intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers) is up 10.4% over October 2009 and up 1.2% over October 2008.

"Last week the government announced that GDP grew roughly two percent in the third quarter of 2010.  Rail traffic in October suggests that similarly moderate growth is continuing into the fourth quarter," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray.
Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows U.S. average weekly rail carloads (NSA). Traffic increased in 15 of 19 major commodity categories year-over-year.

From AAR:
• U.S. freight railroads originated 1,196,432 carloads in October 2010, an average of 299,108 carloads per week. That’s up 8.7% from October 2009 and down 7.9% from October 2008 on a non-seasonally adjusted basis
As the first graph shows, rail carload traffic collapsed in November 2008, and now, a year into the recovery, carload traffic has only recovered half way. However intermodal has performed better ...

Rail Traffic
• On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, October is usually the highest intermodal month of the year for U.S. railroads. That’s the case again in 2010

• Well over half of U.S. intermodal traffic consists of imports or exports, and growth in international trade is a major factor behind higher intermodal traffic so far this year. In the first nine months of 2010, import TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) at six of the largest U.S. ports — Los Angeles, Long Beach, Savannah, New York & New Jersey, Seattle, and Norfolk — rose 19.9% in aggregate compared with the first nine months of 2009. Export TEUs at the same ports were up 15.5% in aggregate.excerpts with permission
This is consistent with a sluggish recovery.

Note: The Ceridian-UCLA diesel fuel index for October will be released tomorrow.

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