Rail Freight Traffic Drops in April

Freight traffic on U.S. railroads was down sharply during April 2009 compared with the same period last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Carload traffic fell 23.0 percent compared to April 2008 to 1,278,794 carloads. U.S. rail intermodal traffic fell 17.9 percent (199,530 trailers and containers) to 917,981 units in April.

U.S. rail carloadings fell in April 2009 in all 19 major commodity groups tracked by the AAR, including coal (down 96,494 carloads, or 13.4 percent); metals and metal products (down 41,322 carloads, or 62.1 percent); motor vehicles and equipment (down 40,820 carloads, or 46.7 percent); and grain (down 35,407 carloads, or 28.3 percent).

 "Unfortunately, it's hard to find much in rail traffic data in April to support the idea that the economy is starting to see ‘green shoots' - it may still just be weeds," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray.

For the first four months of 2009, carload traffic was down 18.2 percent (1,010,958 carloads) and intermodal traffic was down 16.2 percent (611,332 trailers and containers) on U.S. railroads.

Total 2009 volume on U.S. railroads was estimated at 482.0 billion ton-miles, down 17.3 percent from the first four months of 2008.