Monday, January 11, 2016

2015 U.S. Rail Freight DOWN vs. 2014; Trucking Negative, too

Recieved via e-mail...

"Total rail traffic moved in the U.S. in 2015 was about 28 million carloads and intermodal units, down 2.5% compared to 2014; total U.S. carload traffic for 2015 dropped 6.1%, AAR reported on Jan. 6, 2016. Additionally, carload traffic in the month of December 2015 dropped 15.6% from December 2014."   "...for the week ending Jan. 2, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 516,946 carloads and intermodal units, down 11.8%."

Yet again, as I have long said about railroads and trucking as barometers of the true health of the economy: "You can't fake freight.(Or, Cargo is not 'an opinion'.)
While longer term, freight volumes are responsive to political policies, tonnage figures for weekly and monthly intervals cannot be easily manipulated: something was either shipped, moved and received...or it was not. Someone in Purchasing ordered something that they felt they could sell. (Nobody is inclined, in today's J-I-T environment that recognizes the time value of money, to load up on uncommitted inventory.) 

Rail freight carriers are not alone; the truckers are feeling the squeeze, too.

From yesterday's Wall Street Journal:

Sales Downshift at Heavy Truck Makers 
Lackluster demand for hauling freight curbs big-rig purchases; dealer inventories are bulging
Trucking companies are buying fewer vehicles amid lackluster demand for hauling freight, triggering job cuts among equipment manufacturers and leaving a near-record number of big rigs gathering dust on dealers’ lots."

Also from just yesterday:

Avondale Partners Senior Analyst Donald Broughton Talks Transports on CNBC Squawkbox
 "...that industrial recession is getting worse, not better". "...we've seen truck tonnage negative three out of the last four's been negative six out of the last eleven months"

And yet, we're told that the Economy is 'Just Fine'...     But, "You can't fake freight."