Rail Traffic Remains Down

The Association of American Railroads on Nov. 12 reported that freight rail traffic continued weak for the week ended Nov. 7, 2009. U.S. railroads reported originating 274,846 carloads for the week, down 12.2 percent compared with the same week in 2008. Carloads fell for the second straight week, from a total 275,439 for the week ending Oct. 31.

Intermodal traffic picked up slightly, rebounding from 203,860 trailers and containers last week to reach 206,890 total for the week ending Nov. 7. This was below level seen in the week ending Oct. 24, however, and off 9.5 percent from the level seen a year ago. Overall, compared with the same week in 2008, container volume fell 3.4 percent and trailer volume dropped 32.3 percent.

Grain mill products continued their positive performance relative to 2008, up 2.4 percent over the same week last year; grain (10 percent), nonmetallic minerals (2.8 percent) and waste and scrap metal (1.6 percent) also saw year-over-year growth in weekly totals. Declines were the rule, however, as 15 of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were down from last year, posting declines of 1.5 percent for farm products excluding grain to 34.2 percent for lumber and wood products.

Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Nov. 7, 2009, was estimated at 31 billion ton-miles, down 11.5 percent compared with the same week last year.

For the first 44 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,757,465 carloads, down 17.8 percent from 2008.

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