Traffic ‘May be Bottoming’
Published: March 19th 2009
Source: John D. Boyd - The Journal of Commerce
Printer friendly version
Bulk railcar shipments at major U.S. railroads were down another 15
percent in the latest week, but "it appears as though things may be
bottoming," said Tom White, spokesman for the Association of American
White has prepared the railcar reports for many years, and said normally
the year-over-year changes provide the best indicator of economic
demand. But he said after such a sharp drop as in recent months the
sequential performance provides some guidance.
Large U.S. railroads originated 279,287 railcar loads in the week ending
March 14, of everything from bulk commodities to large equipment such as
automobiles or construction gear but not including intermodal containers
That was a 1.5 percent gain from the March 7 week, said White, and the
latest in a series of weeks when carloads have fluctuated in a narrow
range of 275,000 to as much as 285,000 shipments. "That sort of
indicates that things, perhaps, are bottoming out," instead of
continuing downward, he said.
In mid-January, by contrast, White said carload volume was below the
"It seems to me that when you're in this sort of economy, you take a
little bit of look at whether there's beginning to be a week-to-week
uptrend," he said.
AAR said intermodal traffic fell 18.3 percent in the March 14 week,
worse than the year-to-date's 15.8 percent drop. But the latest weekly
carload decline was not as bad as some other weeks, as carloads are down
15.7 percent over the first 10 weeks of 2009.
AAR said carloads in the second week of this month were down 14.2
percent in the West and 16.1 percent in the East from a year earlier.
And while traffic in nearly all carload categories was down from the
same point in 2009, 10 showed higher actual volume than a week ago.