Rail Traffic Continued To Improve In October

by: Mark J. Perry

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported gains in October 2011 rail traffic compared with the same month last year, with U.S. railroads originating 1,215,627 carloads, up 1.7 percent, and 975,566 trailers and containers, up 3.6 percent. October 2011 saw the highest weekly carload average of any month since October 2008, as well as the highest weekly intermodal average since October 2006. Detailed monthly data charts and tables will be made available in the AAR’s Rail Time Indicators report to be released tomorrow.

Today, AAR also reported gains in traffic for the week ending Oct. 29, 2011, with U.S. railroads originating 307,900 carloads, up 5.2 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 243,774 trailers and containers, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year.

The chart above shows weekly rail traffic for carloads and containers back to 2009. Except for a slightly higher volume in the first week of October, the 307,900 carloads shipped by rail last week was the highest weekly volume since 2008. Intermodal shipments remained above 240,000 for the seventh straight week for the first time since 2008. As an indicator of current and future economic activity, especially for the U.S. manufacturing sector, the steady gains in weekly and monthly rail traffic indicate gradual, but ongoing improvements in the U.S. economy.