Tuesday, February 08, 2011

AAR: Rail Traffic increases in January

by Bill McBride on 2/08/2011 03:59:00 PM

From the Association of American Railroads: January Freight Rail Traffic Continues Steady Growth. The AAR reports carload traffic in January 2011 was up 8.0% compared to January 2010. Intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers) is up 7.4% over January 2010.

U.S. freight railroads originated an average of 285,573 carloads per week in January 2011, for a total of 1,142,293 carloads for the month. That’s up 8.0% over January 2010 and up 7.3% over January 2009. That sounds like a nice gain — and it is — but to keep it in perspective, other than 2009 and 2010 it’s still the lowest January average since 1994.
Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows U.S. average weekly rail carloads (NSA).

From AAR:
• On an unadjusted basis, 15 of the 20 commodity categories saw carload gains on U.S. railroads in January 2011 compared with January 2010. The five commodity categories seeing declines — grain mill products, primary forest products, coke, nonmetallic minerals, and waste and non-ferrous scrap — together accounted for less than 8% of total carloads for the month. The highest-volume commodity categories were all up in January.
As the first graph shows, rail carload traffic collapsed in November 2008, and now, over 18 months into the recovery, carload traffic has only recovered part way.

Rail TrafficThe second graph is for intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers):
• In January 2011, U.S. railroads originated 863,099 intermodal trailers and containers, an average of 215,775 per week — up 7.4% over January 2010, up 10.1% over January 2009, and the third highest January average in history(behind January 2006 and January 2007).

• Growth in intermodal traffic is a function both of a growing economy
and growing international trade as well as conversion of freight from over-the-highway moves to rail intermodal moves.
excerpts with permission
Traffic is increasing slowly, but combined traffic is still well below the 2008 levels.

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