The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. carloads for the month of January 2010 were down 0.7 percent at 1,056,684 carloads, compared with the same month last year, and down 17.7 percent compared with 2008. The Rail Time Indicators report, available at www.aar.org, comprises monthly rail traffic data framed with other key economic indicators to show how freight rail is tied to the broader U.S. economy.
Last month's intermodal traffic, which includes movement of truck trailers and shipping containers, was up slightly at 2.5 percent to 803,275 units compared with January 2009, but down 11.2 percent compared with the same month in 2008.
Thirteen of the 19 commodity categories tracked by AAR saw year-over-year gains from January 2009, with nonmetallic minerals seeing the highest gain, up 65.9 percent. The motor vehicles and parts category also saw a significant monthly boost, up 65.7 percent compared with January last year. However all commodity categories, with the exception of grain mill products, were down in January when compared with the same month in 2008.
For the first time, AAR also is providing seasonally adjusted U.S. rail traffic in the Rail Time Indicators report, using January 1988-December 2009 as the basis for the seasonal adjustment. Seasonally adjusted carloads in January were up 2.6 percent from December 2009, and were the highest of any month in the past 11 months.
"Seasonal adjustment is designed to improve month-to-month comparisons and eliminate seasonal components that can mask underlying trends," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray. "While our seasonal adjustment process is subject to further refinement, we're confident that seasonally adjusted rail traffic figures will be a useful complement to our other data and will help further illustrate the importance of railroads to the broader economy."