Weekly US Railroad Carloadings Down 17.2%, Cumulative Decline By 18.1%

Even as we have anniversaried the Lehman collapse, the primary indicator of economic viability and potential growth: intermodal traffic, continues to decline. In fact the weekly decline was slight worse, and came out at -17.2% YoY for week 40, nominally worse than the prior week's -17.1%. The categories most impacted were Primary Forest Products and Lumber and Wood Products, both instrumental in new housing construction. If there is a reason to be buying Centex, Lennar and Toll, sure don't look for it here.

Even the AAR was unable to spin this data in any favorable light:

The Association of American Railroads today reported that for the week ending Oct. 10, 2009, rail traffic remains down – originating 273,429 carloads, down 17.2 percent compared with the same week in 2008. Regionally, carloads were down 15.4 percent in the West and 19.7 percent in the East.


Intermodal traffic, while down 11 percent from the same week last year, showed slight signs of improvement this week. U.S. railroads reported originating 208,941 trailers or containers for 2009 – the highest weekly intermodal volume for 2009. In the year over year comparison, however, container volume fell 4.6 percent and trailer volume dropped 34.9 percent.


Seventeen of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were down from the same week last year. However, nonmetallic minerals were up 6 percent and grain mill products were up 1.4 percent. Declines in commodity groups ranged from 3.1 percent for grain to 70.4 percent for metallic ores.


For the first 40 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,655,334 carloads, down 18.1 percent from 2008; 7,556,240 trailers or containers, down 16.6 percent, and total volume of an estimated 1.14 trillion ton-miles, down 17.2 percent. Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending October 10 was estimated at 30.8 billion ton-miles, off 16.1 percent from the same week last year.

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