US weekly chemical railcar traffic falls 20.6% year on year

04 June 2009 20:23  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--US chemical railcar traffic fell 20.6% in the week ended on 30 May from the same week in 2008, marking the 39th straight decline, according to data released by an industry association on Thursday.

US chemical railcar loadings for the week were 25,513, down from 32,147 in the same week in 2008, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said.

The decline compares with a 12.7% drop for the previous week ended on 23 May.

With railroads transporting more than 20% of the chemicals produced in the US, the weekly shipment data are a good early indicator of current chemical industry activity.

The decline in the weekly chemical traffic was in line with a sharp 24.7% year-on-year drop in overall US railcar shipments for the month of May, the AAR said.

“May marked the second straight month in which US rail coal carloadings had double-digit declines, a consequence of lower electricity demand and higher coal stockpiles,” AAR senior vice president John Gray said. 

“Industrial production is still down sharply across the board. That means lower demand for rail service for everything from chemicals and scrap metal to cement and ores," Gray said.

"Basically, railroads are in a waiting game — waiting for the economy to turn,” he said.

For the year-to-date period through 30 May, US chemical railcar loadings fell 17.9% to 542,364, from 660,278 in the same period last year.

The AAR also provided comparable chemical railcar shipment data for Canada, Mexico and North America as a whole.

Canadian chemical rail traffic for the week ended on 30 May dropped 19.9% to 11,134, down from 13,899 in the same week last year.

For the year-to-date period, Canadian shipments were 234,577, down 26.5% from 319,267 in the same period in 2008.

Mexican weekly chemical rail traffic fell 4.1%, to 1,270, from 1,324 in the same week a year earlier.

For the year-to-date period, Mexican shipments were 22,221, up 15.1% from 19,311 in the same period last year.

For all of North America, chemical railcar shipments totalled 37,917, down 20.0% from 47,370 in the same week in 2008.

For the year-to-date period, North American chemical railcar traffic was down also by 20%, to 799,162, from 998,856 in the same period last year.

Overall, the AAR tracks 19 carload commodity categories.

From the same week last year, US weekly railcar traffic for the 19 carload commodity categories fell 26.3% to 233,195, and dropped 19.6% year to date to 5.5m.

For all of North America, railcar traffic sank 27.7% to 299,372 for the week, and fell 20.2 % in the year-to-date period ended on 30 May to 7.0m.

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