AAR reports railroad traffic is up for week ending January 29
February 04, 2011 - LM Editorial
Railroad traffic for the week ending January 29 was up again on an annual basis, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Carload volume at 291,147 was up 4.7 percent year-over-year, which is ahead of the week ending January 22 at 282,837. The AAR said that carload volume was up 2.4 percent in the East and up 6.2 percent out West.
Intermodal volumes for the week ending January 29 totaled 222,742 total trailers and containers, which was up 9.2 percent annually. Containers—at 190,140—were up 10.1 percent, and trailers—at 32,602—were up 4.4 percent. This output was far ahead of the week ending January 22, which saw 180,888.
As LM has reported, while volumes are up annually and at recent levels on a sequential basis, it appears the annual comparisons for railroad data will be less impressive than they were in 2010, considering 2010 comparisons were up against a difficult 2009.
But railroad volume appear to be picking up where 2010 left off, and prospects for 2011 look very encouraging, especially in light of recent fourth-quarter and full-year earnings results from multiple Class I carriers, which pointed to continued pricing and volume increases.
Of the 20 commodity groups the AAR tracks, 14 saw annual growth for the week ending January 29, with metallic ores up 17.7 percent and farm products excluding grain up 37.2 percent. Coal was up 4.7 percent.
Estimated ton-miles for the week ending January 29 were 32.8 billion for a 5.8 percent annual increase, and for the first four weeks of 2011 the 128.2 billion ton-miles recorded are up 9.0 percent.
“On a year-to-date basis, carloads are 8.0% higher vs. last year and intermodal units are 7.4% higher,” wrote Avondale Partners analyst Donald Broughton in a research note. “Coal continues to progress, as normalized utility coal stockpiles, along with improving trends for domestic met coal and export coal should yield weekly coal volumes in the 150-160k range. When combined with the steady rise in intermodal units and the strong volumes seen in chemical and metals, as well as the growing boost from agricultural volumes, we anticipate strong overall volumes moving forward.”
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