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Friday, May 03, 2013

AAR: Rail Traffic "mixed" in April

by Calculated Risk on 5/03/2013 05:24:00 PM

From the Association of American Railroads (AAR): AAR Reports Mixed Rail Traffic for April, and Week Ending April 27

Intermodal traffic in April 2013 totaled 962,019 containers and trailers, up 1.6 percent (15,053 units) compared with April 2012. April’s weekly average of trailers and containers, 240,505, was the highest for any April in history.

Carloads originated in April 2013 totaled 1,108,722, down 0.4 percent (4,640 carloads) compared with the same month last year.

“Coal and grain carloads remain depressed, but by and large rail traffic in April was consistent with an economy that’s continuing to grow, albeit slowly,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “There’s nothing in the traffic data to indicate that a sharp economic slowdown is imminent. On the other hand, there’s nothing to indicate that a dramatic uptick in economic growth is imminent either.”
emphasis added
Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image.

This graph from the Rail Time Indicators report shows U.S. average weekly rail carloads (NSA).  Green is 2013.
U.S. rail carloads of petroleum and petroleum products were up 46.4% (17,524 carloads) in April 2013 over April 2012. ...

Carloads of crushed stone, gravel, and sand were up 11.5% (8,959 carloads) in April 2013 over April 2012. Industrial sand is part of this category, and frac sand is a type of industrial sand.

Other commodities showing carload gains in April 2013 over April 2012 include coke (up 1,359 carloads, or 10.1%), lumber and wood products (up 1,093 carloads, or 8.4%), and food products (up 835 carloads, or 3.3%).
Note that building related commodities were up.

The second graph is for intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers):

Rail TrafficGraphs and excerpts reprinted with permission.

Intermodal traffic is on track for a record year in 2013:
U.S. rail intermodal traffic was up 1.6% (15,053 containers and trailers) in April 2013 over April 2012 to 962,019 units. The weekly average in April 2013 — 240,505 units — was the highest for any April in history. Year-to-date intermodal volume on U.S. railroads was 4,046,935 units, up 4.4% (171,446 units) over the same period in 2012.
Earlier on the employment report:
April Employment Report: 165,000 Jobs, 7.5% Unemployment Rate
Employment Report Comments and more Graphs