Rail Loadings Eke Out Small Gain from Previous Week, Remain Below 2008 Levels

The Association of American Railroads on Oct. 29 reported that rail traffic remained down year over year for the week ended Oct. 24, 2009, although carloadings did climb slightly from the previous week. U.S railroads reported originating 276,357 carloads, down 14.8 percent compared with the same week in 2008 and 17.3 percent from 2007, but still slightly higher than the total of 275,545 carloads for the week ending Oct. 17.

Intermodal traffic totaled 207,401 trailers or containers, down 10.1 percent from a year ago and 14.5 percent from 2007, but up slightly from the previous week's total of 206,139.

Grain mill products are the current standout commodity group of carload freight, up 9.6 percent compared with the same week last year and up week over week as well. Grain carloadings also led last year's figure for the same week, at 23,926 carloadings, a 6.2 percent increase. This marked an improvement from the previous week, when grain carloadings were down 2.8 percent from the 2008 pace for the same week.

The other 17 carload freight commodity groups were down from the same week last year. Declines in commodity groups ranged from 1.9 percent for chemicals to 66.1 percent for metallic ores.

For the first 42 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,207,180 carloads, down 18 percent from 2008 and 18.3 percent from 2007.

See the AAR's weekly rail traffic charts for more details.