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Here's What Drove Growth in US Rail Freight in Week 39

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Part 5
Here's What Drove Growth in US Rail Freight in Week 39 PART 5 OF 8

Gauging BNSF Railway’s Volume Growth in Week 39

BNSF Railway’s railcar volumes

BNSF Railway (BRK-B), a Berkshire Hathaway railroad, operates in the Western US. Last week, the 39th week of 2017 (ended September 30), BNSF’s railcar traffic fell 1%, from ~102,000 railcars in the week ended October 1, 2016, to just over 101,000 railcars.

The volume decline was across categories. Excluding coal (ARLP) and coke, railcar volumes fell ~1% to ~60,000 units, from ~60,500 in the 39th week of 2016. Similarly, carloads of coal and coke fell 1% to ~41,000 units, from ~41,700 units in the same week last year. BNSF Railway registered a freight volume loss compared with other US railroads in the 39th week of 2017.

Gauging BNSF Railway&#8217;s Volume Growth in Week 39

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Change in commodity groups

Last week, commodity groups that reported higher YoY (year-over-year) volumes included the following:

  • chemicals
  • motor vehicles (TSLA) (F)
  • metallic ores
  • sand and gravel
  • metals

Commodity groups that reported declining volumes last week included:

  • grain
  • motor vehicles
  • petroleum products (UGAZ)
  • lumber and wood products
  • grain mill products

BNSF’s intermodal traffic last week

BNSF Railway posted a 6.4% gain in overall intermodal traffic in the week ended September 30, 2017. Trailer and container traffic reached ~107,000 units, compared with ~101,000 units in the week ended October 1, 2016.

Containers contribute ~90% of total intermodal traffic for BNSF Railway. Container volumes rose 5.3% to ~94,500 units last week, compared with ~90,000 units in the same week last year. Trailer traffic rose 15.7% to ~13,000 units.

Notably, BNSF’s intermodal traffic growth last week was in line with the rise reported by all US railroads for the 39th week of 2017.

Next, we’ll cover Kansas City Southern (KSU).

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