Rail Traffic Report Shows Growth

A recently released report from the Association of American Railroads (AAR) showed growth in rail traffic when comparing October 2011 with the prior year. In fact, October 2011 showed the highest weekly average in two categories.

  • The highest carload average since October 2008
  • The highest intermodal average since October 2006

Carload traffic was up 1.7 percent from the prior year and intermodal (trailers and containers) was up 3.6 percent. Historically, October has higher intermodal transport due to increased stocking for the holidays.

For 2011 through October, carload increased 1.8 percent and intermodal traffic was up 5.3 percent over 2010 traffic for the same period.

October Gains

AAR reports several industrial commodities, such as chemicals, steel and petroleum products had increased rail carloads in October.  Of the 20 carload commodities, 12 saw increases with the following categories showing the largest gains.

  • Petroleum/petroleum products up 5018 carloads (19.4 percent)
  • Motor vehicles and parts up 6,177 carloads (11.1 percent)
  • Coal up 6,124 carloads (1.1 percent)

The rail report follows an expression of cautious optimism by the three largest U.S. railroads (Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern and CSX) in a recent Bloomberg article.

Detailed data and charts are available in the AAR’s Rail Time Indicators, a monthly report that provides a snapshot of rail traffic data as it relates to various U.S. economic indicators.