US weekly chemical railcar traffic falls 1.6% year on year

02 February 2012 18:51  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US chemical railcar traffic fell by 1.6% year on year for the week ended 28 January, marking its second decline so far this year, according to data released by a rail industry group on Thursday.

There were 30,410 chemical railcar loadings last week, compared with 30,896 in the same week in 2011, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said.

In the previous week ended 21 January, US weekly chemical railcar shipments rose by 1.1% year on year, 

The weekly chemical railcar loadings data are an important real-time measure of chemical industry activity and demand. Railcar loadings represent about 20% of US chemical transportation by tonnage, with trucks, barges and pipelines carrying the rest.

Year to date to 28 January, US chemical railcar loadings were down 2.3%, to 118,052, compared with the same period in 2011.

Meanwhile, overall US weekly railcar traffic for the 19 high-volume freight commodity groups tracked by the AAR fell by 2.8% year on year to 283,654 carloads.

For the month of January, overall carloads were basically flat, inching up by only 0.1% to 1,144,800 from the same month in 2011.

However, a number of commodity categories — including many that are highly correlated with GDP growth — saw large increases in January, AAR senior vice president John Gray said.

“That’s a sign that the underlying economy is probably stronger than you would think if you just looked at the rail traffic totals,” Gray said.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in his Chemicals and the Economy Blog

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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