United States rail carload and intermodal volumes were down again in October, according to data issued this week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Carloads-at 1,224,477-fell 8.4%, or 112,703 carloads, annually. And AAR said that four of the 20 carload commodities it tracks saw annual gains, including: stone, clay & glass products, up 2,028 carloads or 5.2 percent; petroleum & petroleum products, up 1,543 carloads or 2.5 percent; and chemicals, up 603 carloads or 0.4 percent. Commodities that saw declines in October 2019 from October 2018 included: coal, down 65,554 carloads or 15 percent; motor vehicles & parts, down 8,833 carloads or 10.3 percent; and crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 8,121 carloads or 6.8 percent.
When excluding coal, October carloads were off 47,149 carloads, or 5.2%, and when excluding coal and grain, carloads were off 40,496 carloads, or 5.1%.
This marks the ninth consecutive month U.S. rail carloads have seen an annual decline, confirming the AAR’s sentiment that U.S. railroads are in a freight recession.
Intermodal containers and trailers-at 1,331,944-were off 7.8%, or 111,910 units, compared to October 2018. Like carloads, this also marks the ninth consecutive month of annual declines.
A common theme, for these volumes, observed by the AAR is that the parts of the economy that generate much of the freight that move via railroads, including manufacturing and goods trading, have continued to weaken over the past several months.
“Sluggish growth abroad and trade developments are weighing on business investment, exports, and manufacturing. Unfortunately, those are precisely what drive much of the freight carried by U.S. railroads, and their weakness goes a long way in explaining why rail traffic is down right now,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Railroads are hopeful that policymakers here and abroad will take sensible actions aimed at accelerating growth and removing the uncertainty that’s constraining many economic sectors.”
Through the first ten months of 2010, U.S. rail carloads are down 4.3%, or 497,121 carloads, to 11,088,723, and intermodal units were off 4.5%, or 553,863 units, to 11,721,870.
For the week ending November 2, U.S. rail carloads, at 245,319, fell 8.8% and intermodal units, at 264,693, were off 8.6%.
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