Freight Railroad Traffic Plunged 8% At The End Of October


freight-railroad-traffic-plunged-8%-at-the-end-of-october

US freight railroads, which along with Class 8 trucking have long been used as a gauge of the country’s economic health, continue to show declines in traffic.

Freight railroads logged 513,147 carloads and intermodal units during the week ending October 26, according to data from the Association of American Railroads reported on by Progressive Railroading. This marks an 8.8% decline compared to the same week last year. 

Total carload traffic for the week was down 9.4% to 243,321 units and intermodal volume fell 8.3% to 269,826 containers and trailers.

The AAR tracks 10 carload commodity groups on a weekly basis – none of them showed growth for the week. Coal fell 14,797 carloads, grain fell 2,512 carloads and metallic ores and metals fell 2,064 carloads.

Canadian and Mexican railroads also reported traffic declines for the week. Canadian railroads were down 7.9% and intermodal units were down 3.6%. Mexican railroads logged 19,573 carloads for the week, down 1.1% and intermodal units fell 5.6%.

As the report notes, in aggregate: 

  • U.S. railroads reported a combined 22,300,581 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.3 percent;

  • Canadian railroads reported a combined 6,523,922 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.7 percent; and

  • Mexican railroads reported a combined 1,625,137 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.8 percent.

Total North American rail volume for the YTD 43 week period is still 3.2% lower than 2018. Recall, we wrote earlier this month that Class 8 orders for September had also crashed 71%, with the two indicators marking an obvious slowdown in the country’s economic productivity that everybody except Jim Cramer and Jerome Powell are able to see. 

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