U.S. freight carload traffic was down 8.2% in November compared with the same month a year ago, and down 17.4% compared with November 2007. But if Thanksgiving week were excluded, the month would have been the highest volume month in 2009, the Association of American Railroads said.
U.S. rail intermodal traffic also was down 6.7% for the month compared with November 2008, and down 14.1% compared to November 2007.
AAR said that while freight rail traffic is still recovering, its Rail Time Indicators report illustrates that the recovery in U.S. manufacturing seems to be continuing. The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which measures how U.S. manufacturing is faring, was at 53.6 in November. A PMI above 50 is thought to indicate growth in the manufacturing sector. If manufacturing is growing, improvement in rail carloads of raw materials, like chemicals and steel which are used in the production of goods, could be seen next month, AAR said."November's traffic numbers, when considering the effect of the Thanksgiving week, are generally positive," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John Gray. "Rail traffic is still down significantly in comparison to 2007 numbers, but the economic indicators in December's report lead us to believe that our nation's economy continues to improve."