Seeking Alpha
Profile| Send Message|
( followers)  

The Association of American Railroads released their weekly rail traffic report again and it showed additional year over year declines.

AAR Reports: Rail Traffic Remains Down Year Over Year

Rail carloadings up slightly from previous weeks

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2009 — The Association of American Railroads today reported that rail traffic remains down year over year for the week ended July 11, 2009. U.S railroads reported originating 262,210 cars, down 17.9 percent compared with the same week in 2008. Regionally, carloadings were down 12.8 percent in the West and 25.6 percent in the East. Rail carloadings were at their highest level in 14 weeks.

Intermodal volume of 176,887 trailers or containers was down 23.7 percent from the same week last year. Container volume fell 19.4 percent and trailer volume dropped 40.3 percent. Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending July 11 was estimated at 28 billion ton-miles, off 16.9 percent from the same week last year.

All 19 carload freight commodity groups were down from last year, with declines ranging from 4.2 percent for the catch-all category labeled “all other carloads” to 58.4 percent for metals and metal products.

For the first 27 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,069,102 carloads, down 19.2 percent from 2008; 4,993,245 trailers or containers, down 17.1 percent, and total volume of an estimated 751.7 billion ton-miles, down 18.2 percent.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 58,741 cars for the week, down 24.6 percent from last year, and 39,945 trailers or containers, down 21.4 percent. For the first 27 weeks of 2009, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,608,721 carloads, down 24 percent from last year, and 1,081,085 trailers or containers, down 15.9 percent.

Mexican railroads reported originated volume of 11,430 cars, down 12.5 percent from the same week last year, and 4,725 trailers or containers, off 23.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 27 weeks of 2009 was reported as 305,127 carloads, down 15.0 percent from last year; and 128,281 trailers or containers, down 22.1 percent.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 27 weeks of 2009 on 14 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 8,982,950 carloads, down 19.9 percent from last year, and 6,202,611 trailers and containers, down 17.0 percent from last year.

I'll continue to monitor this as I view rail traffic as a good, broad indicator of the U.S. economy. Government data and statistics can often be misinterpreted and/or manipulated, but this stuff is pretty straightforward. Again, I like the railroads as an investment going forward due to efficiency and lack of competition. Typically, with data like this the stocks would be trading at or near lows, but that isn't quite the case right now. I'm still looking to buy some shares at lower levels.

Disclosure: No Positions

Source: Rail Traffic, Another 'Reality' Indicator, Is Down