Week 9 of 2018 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) improved according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. The rolling averages remain mixed.
Analyst Opinion of the Rail Data
We review this data set to understand the economy. If coal and grain are removed from the analysis for carloads, this week it expanded 2.7 %. We primarily use rolling averages the analyze the data due to weekly volatility.
Intermodal transport growth remains strong year-over-year.
The following graph compares the four week moving averages for carload economically intuitive sectors (red line) vs. total movements (blue line):
This analysis is looking for clues in the rail data to show the direction of economic activity – and is not necessarily looking for clues of profitability of the railroads. The weekly data is fairly noisy, and the best way to view it is to look at the rolling averages (carloads [including coal and grain] and intermodal combined).
A summary of the data from the AAR: