The Association of American Railroads has released data for the week ending July 9th, and for the year-to-date for carloads by freight type and intermodal units. Here is the data for the most recent week, as compared to the same week in 2021:

US Rail Traffic, Week Ending July 9, 2022 This Week Year-to-Date
Cars Vs. 2021 Cumulative vs. 2021 Typical Railcars
Total Carloads          207,450 -1.3%      6,201,367 -0.2%
Chemicals            30,163 -3.3%          915,479 4.6% Tankcars, Boxcars
Coal            60,105 2.8%      1,743,574 3.6% Open Top Hoppers, Gondolas
Farm products excl Grain and Food            15,705 7.2%          439,779 3.0% Covered Hoppers, Boxcars
Forest Products               9,410 -2.7%          267,033 -1.7% Flatcars, Special
Grain            17,031 -0.3%          608,674 -7.6% Covered Hoppers
Metallic Ores and Metals            18,019 -19.7%          558,063 -7.2% Gondolas, Open Top Hoppers
Motor Vehicles and Parts            10,725 4.0%          349,811 -1.7% Special
Nonmetallic Minerals            29,624 1.0%          822,132 4.7% Open Top Hoppers, Gondolas
Petroleum & Petroleum Products               9,395 -3.9%          253,077 -12.8% Tankcars
Other               7,273 -0.5%          243,745 -7.9%
Total Intermodal Units          230,150 -4.7%      7,108,876 -6.1% Intermodal Flatcars, Special
Total Traffic          437,600 -3.1%    13,310,243 -3.5%
Copyright: Association of American Railroads


Unfortunately, the data suggests the economy is slowing, and more so now than at the beginning of the year given the recent week’s total carloads being down more than the year-to-date statistic. Another disappointing stat, in our view, is the continuing reduced shipments of petroleum and petroleum products, as compared to last year. After 18 months of steady price increases for crude oil, one would have expected this category to be much more robust, but the current federal policies are working it appears. We suspect the increases in coal shipments are largely for export.

It appears broad industrial categories may also be slipping given the eye-popping decline in metallic ores and metals as compared to the same week last year. One industrial category that looks to be rebounding a bit is motor vehicle production, up 4% over the week last year, and up while the year-to-date stat is still down. That is worth watching in future releases.