Tuesday, January 11, 2011

AAR: Rail Traffic increases in December

by Calculated Risk on 1/11/2011 11:49:00 AM

From the Association of American Railroads: AAR Reports December 2010 Rail Traffic. The AAR reports carload traffic in December 2010 was up 9.4% compared to December 2009, and traffic is also above December 2008. Intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers) is up 13.3% over December 2009 and up over December 2008.

Total carloads for the year were 14.8 million, up 7.3% over the 13.8 million in 2009. Total intermodal volume in 2010 was 11.3 million trailers and containers, up 14.2% over 2009’s 9.9 million units.

The 7.3% increase in carloads and 14.2% increase in intermodal volume in 2010 over 2009 might be the largest annual percentage increases in history; they’re definitely the largest since 1988, the earliest year for which we have comparable data. Unfortunately, 2010’s increases followed what were probably the biggest annual percentage declines in history in 2009, when carloads were down more than 16% and intermodal traffic was down more than 14% from 2008’s levels. In other words, U.S. railroads have recovered some lost ground, but not nearly all of it.
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:
• In December 2010, U.S. freight railroads originated an average of 271,568 carloads per week, up 9.4% over December 2009 and the biggest year-over-year percentage monthly increase since June 2010
As the first graph shows, rail carload traffic collapsed in November 2008, and now, about 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):
• U.S. railroads also averaged 206,820 intermodal trailers and containers per week in December 2010, up 13.3% over December 2009.

• Seasonally Adjusted: Carloads in December 2010 increased 1.9% from Nov.
2010; intermodal in December 2010 increased 0.3% over November 2010.
excerpts with permission
As the AAR notes, "U.S. railroads have recovered some lost ground, but not nearly all of it". Traffic is increasing slowly, but still below the 2007 levels.