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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Economy's still on a roll: April's Transportation Services Index sets another monthly record

There are no signs in the transportation sector that the U.S. economy is losing momentum. In April, the Transportation Services Index (TSI) reached another 14-year high at 124.4 — the third-straight monthly record-setter. The index rose 0.8 percent and 8.2 percent compared with March's and April 2003's indexes, respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

Since August 2003, the economic indicator has risen every month except January. BTS revised March's TSI from 122.5 to 123.4.

April's Freight TSI of 126.0 rose 0.5 percent and 6.3 percent compared with March's and April 2003's indexes, respectively. April's index represented the highest level in the Freight TSI's 14-year history and the third-straight monthly gain. BTS revised March's Freight TSI from 123.3 to 125.4.

April's Passenger TSI increased 1.7 percent to 121.1 compared with March's index, which dropped slightly compared with February. BTS revised March's Passenger TSI from 120.5 to 119.1.

The April index rose 13.3 percent compared with April 2003's TSI and was less than 0.3 percent below September 2000's record 121.5.

"The rise of the TSI for passengers was solely from the increase of the air passenger index since the other indexes — rail passenger and transit — decreased in April," said BTS officials in a prepared statement.

During a six-month period ending in April, the TSI, Freight TSI and Passenger TSI rose 6 percent, 5.8 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively, compared with the previous six months.

The TSI is a measure of month-to-month changes in the output of services provided by for-hire transportation industries, including railroad, air, truck, inland waterways, pipelines and local transit. The index includes historic data from 1990 to the present; changes are measured against a base year of 1996.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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