Rail Traffic Decline Is Proof The Economy Still Sucks

The recession in railroads continues unabated.  This is likely the surest proof we have that Ben is simply reflating the bubble while the real economy continues to flounder.  Carloadings were down 17.2% year over year and intermodal traffic declined 15.7%.   On the positive side, it’s quite clear that rail traffic has stabilised and doesn’t continue to decline, however, the robust recovery that equities and other markets have priced in is completely non-existent in the rail data.  The weakness was broad across all segments of the economy.  The weakness was particularly apparent in metals and forest which could be a sign that the recent weakness in housing and lumber prices is a trend:

The AAR reports:

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 8, 2009 — The Association of American Railroads today reported that for the week ended Oct. 3, 2009, rail traffic continues to reflect the down economy – originating 277,734 carloads, down 17.2 per cent compared with the same week in 2008. All of the 19 carload freight commodity groups were down from the same week last year, with declines ranging from 2.7 per cent for chemicals to 53.2 per cent for metallic ores.

Intermodal traffic of 206,293 trailers or containers on U.S. railroads was down 15.7 per cent from the same week last year. Container volume fell 10 per cent and trailer volume dropped 37 per cent.

Regionally, carloads were down 16.4 per cent in the West and 18.3 per cent in the East. For the first 39 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,381,905 carloads, down 18.1 per cent from 2008; 7,347,299 trailers or containers, down 16.8 per cent, and total volume of an estimated 1.11 trillion ton-miles, down 17.3 per cent. Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending October 3 was estimated at 29.7 billion ton-miles, off 16.6 per cent from the same week last year.

Source: Railfax, AAR

(This post originally appeared at the author’s blog)

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