NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The highest year over year increase ever in rail car freight occurred in April (15.8%). Data has been kept only since 1989, but the increase may well be the highest number ever, according to the Association of American Railroads.
In a separate category, intermodal traffic increased by 14.3% year over year, the tenth largest number since 1990. Rail cars are used largely for commodities and raw materials, while intermodal traffic (containers and trailers) is substantially processed and finished goods.
Rail freight continued to grow in April from March levels as well, although by small amounts: 0.5% for rail cars and 1.0% for intermodal freight. While the amount of freight has not gotten back to 2008 levels for April, the levels of 2010 continue to move farther away from depressed 2009 levels, reflecting an improving economy.
April showed increases in rail car freight year over year for the second straight month. This had not happened prior to March for 20 previous months. The graph above shows the rail car data.