The Association of American Railroads reported that freight rail carloadings were down 15.3% in October compared with the same month last year. But "while U.S. rail intermodal traffic remained down 11.2% in October compared with the same month last year, there continued to be incremental month-to-month gains--up 4% from September 2009," said the AAR.
The association said coal traffic was down by 92,764 carloads, a factor in October's drop that "likely was the result of a cooler-than-normal summer that has led to larger-than-normal utility coal stockpiles." However, grain was up 1% as a weaker U.S. dollar lifted grain exports. (The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that grain deliveries by rail to ports surged in October.)
"October's intermodal numbers, along with the recently-announced increase in GDP for the third quarter, indicate that we are seeing some hope for improvement in the nation's economic situation," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John Gray. "While it is still too early to say we are on the road to recovery, railroads continue to take freight cars out of storage with over 11,000 cars back in service in October."