Weekly US Railroad Carloadings Down 17.1%, Cumulative Decline By 18.2%

The latest Carload Traffic data from the Association of American Railroads is out. If one relies on one of Warren Buffett's traditional leading indicators, there is no respite in sight for the economy. Weekly decline was -17.1% for week 38, with material hits across virtually every carload category. Cumulative traffic decline was relatively flat over the past month at -18.2%.

Official press release from the AAR:

The Association of American Railroads today reported 271,659 carloads for the week ending Sept. 26, 2009, down 17.1 percent compared with the same week in 2008. The traffic numbers were affected by severe flooding in Tennessee and Georgia which halted freight shipments in those areas from Sept. 21-23. Flooding also impacted the western freight carriers who operate through Atlanta. At this time, freight rail operations have returned to normal. Regionally, carloadings were down 15.5 percent in the West and 19.3 percent in the East.

Intermodal traffic of 205,627 trailers or containers on U.S. railroads was down 16.5 percent from the same week last year. Container volume fell 11 percent and trailer volume dropped 37.2 percent.

All of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were down from last year with declines ranging from 6 percent for chemicals to 38.5 percent for metals and products.

For the first 38 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,104,171 carloads, down 18.2 percent from 2008; 7,141,006 trailers or containers, down 16.8 percent, and total volume of an estimated 1.08 trillion ton-miles, down 17.3 percent. Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending September 26 was estimated at 28.8 billion ton-miles, off 17.2 percent from the same week last year.