Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rail Traffic in November

by Calculated Risk on 12/09/2009 09:27:00 AM

From the Association of American Railroads: Rail Time Indicators

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

This graph shows U.S. average weekly rail carloads. This can be a little misleading because the data is impacted by the Thanksgiving holiday, and most of the decline is in coal. (see the notes below)

From AAR:

• In November 2009, U.S. freight railroads originated 1,089,077 carloads, an average of 272,269 carloads per week. That’s down 8.2%, or 96,900 carloads, from November 2008’s 1,185,977 carloads (when the weekly average was 296,494 carloads) and down 17.4% from November 2007’s 1,318,023 total (a weekly average of 329,506 carloads).

• Coal had 78,535 fewer carloads in November 2009 than November 2008, accounting for most of the 96,900 total carload decline for the month.

• U.S. intermodal traffic (which isn’t included in carload figures) totaled 794,184 trailers and containers in November 2009, an average of 198,546 per week. That’s down 6.7% from November 2008 (when the weekly average was 212,879 units) and down
14.1% from November 2007, when the weekly average was 231,124.

• Freight railroading is a 24/7/365-days a year business, but Thanksgiving week is always one of the lowest-volume weeks of the year and therefore holds down the November average.

• If Thanksgiving week were excluded, November would have been the highest volume month for U.S. railroads since November 2008 for both carload and intermodal traffic.
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.