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Rail data has been all over the map in the last 8 weeks, but a clear downtrend in year over year data is becoming apparent. This week’s 1% increase in intermodal traffic is the second slowest reading in over a year. Carloads remained fairly healthy at 5.5%. The AAR elaborates:

The Association of American Railroads (NYSE:AAR) today reported rail traffic gains for the week ending March 5, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 300,953 carloads, up 5.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week was also up, totaling 214,343 trailers and containers, up 1 percent compared with the same week in 2010.Fourteen of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases from the comparable week in 2010. Those groups posting significant increases included: metallic ores, up 105.2 percent; motor vehicles and equipment, up 20.8 percent, and petroleum products, up 18.6 percent. The commodity group reporting a significant drop in weekly traffic was grain mill products, down 12.1 percent.

Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 0.3 percent compared with last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was up 9.2 percent compared with the same week in 2010.

For the first nine weeks of 2011, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,578,642 carloads, up 6 percent from last year, and 1,959,272 trailers and containers, up 7.9 percent from the same point in 2010.

Source: AAR

Source: Rail Traffic Slows in First Week of March