Week 35: Hurricane Harvey Halted US Rail Freight Volumes Growth
US rail freight volumes
The Association of American Railroads (or AAR) publishes a weekly rail freight (UNP) data of North American railroads. The latest was for the 35th week, which ended on September 2, 2017. The weekly statistics disclosed a 0.90% fall in total US rail freight volumes. Overall, shipments fell to 534,000 from 539,000 in the same week last year.
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US railroads’ (XLI) railcar traffic fell ~6.0% to ~257,000 units compared to ~273,000 railcars in the corresponding week of 2016. However, these railroads reported a 4.2% rise in intermodal volumes denoted in containers and trailers on a year-over-year basis. There were ~277,000 units in the 35th week compared to ~266,000 units in the same week last year.
AAR on Hurricane Harvey
AAR senior vice president John Gray said, “Rail traffic in August was a mixed bag, with gains in coal and sand, among other commodities, offset by declines in grain, autos, and crude oil. These results reflect the fact that different rail customer segments are always facing different market dynamics, including, during the last week of August, Hurricane Harvey.”
Canadian and Mexican railroads’ freight traffic
Canadian railroads (CNI) were unaffected by the impact of Hurricane Harvey, posting decent growth in total volumes. The railcar volume rose 9.5% to ~82,500 units in week 35 of 2017. Their intermodal traffic was ~70,000 trailers and containers, a 10.0% rise from last year’s levels in the same week.
Mexican rail carriers (KSU) recorded strong ~15.0% growth in railcar volumes. Their railcars rose to ~16,000 units in the reported week of 2017. However, these railroads witnessed a slight 0.40% fall in intermodal volumes to ~12,000 units.
Next, let’s look at Norfolk Southern (NSC) and whether it was affected by the havoc of Hurricane Harvey.