Monday, July 11, 2011

AAR: Rail Traffic soft in June

by Bill McBride on 7/11/2011 11:45:00 AM

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reports carload traffic in June 2011 increased 0.9 percent compared with the same month last year (up slightly), and intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers) increased 4.6 percent compared with June 2010. On a seasonally adjusted basis, carloads in June 2011 were down 0.7% from May 2011; intermodal in June 2011 was down 2.4% from May 2011.

June 2011, like the previous couple of months, was not a great month for U.S. rail carload traffic. U.S. freight railroads originated 1,428,580 carloads in June 2011, an average of 285,716 per week — up 0.9% (13,232 carloads) over June 2010 and up 11.6% (148,793 carloads) over June 2009 on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.
Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

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

As the first graph shows, rail carload traffic collapsed in November 2008, and now, 2 years into the recovery, carload traffic has recovered less than half way.

For the last few months, traffic has been tracking 2010 (little growth from last year).

According to the AAR, carloads for 14 of 20 commodities they track were up in June, but carloads for coal were down, and that really impacts overall traffic.

Rail TrafficThe second graph is for intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers):
June 2011 was a better month for U.S. intermodal traffic than for U.S. carload traffic, but intermodal growth slowed. U.S. railroads originated 1,152,432 intermodal trailers and containers in June 2011, up 4.6% over June 2010. That’s a decent year-over-year monthly increase, but it’s the lowest since January 2010.
excerpts with permission
So intermodal traffic has been fairly strong, but carload traffic (commodities and autos) is only about half way back to pre-recession levels.