US rail traffic
Every Wednesday morning, the AAR (Association of American Railroads) releases the weekly rail traffic data for the previous week. The latest report is for the week ended June 4, 2016.
During this week, the total number of US railcars fell to just above 224,000 units, reflecting a fall of 16.6% from 269,000 units in the week ended June 6, 2015.
In the reported week of 2016, US intermodal traffic also reported a drop of 17.9% to ~281,000 units from ~231,000 units during the same period in 2015. On an overall basis, the total US freight rail traffic during the week ended June 4, 2016, was down by a remarkable 17.2% compared with the same period last year.
Two out of ten carload commodity groups—miscellaneous rail cars and grain—registered volume growth in the week ended June 4, 2016. The commodity groups that posted decreases in the reported week were petroleum products, which were down by 29.1%; coal, which was down by 23%; and motor vehicles and parts, which were down by ~21%.
Canadian and Mexican rail traffic
In the latest reported week, Canadian rail traffic recorded respective declines of 11.3% and 9.3% in carloads and intermodal, compared with the corresponding week last year. The Mexican railroads followed their counterparts’ trends.
For the week ended June 4, 2016, the carloads of these railroads fell by 1.6%. Intermodal traffic, which was somewhat resilient in the last few weeks, declined marginally by 0.9% in the same week.
North American freight traffic
There are 13 railroads that submit this weekly data. These carriers handle about 95% of the total US and Canadian freight traffic. Class I railroads account for the lion’s share in freight rail movement:
- BNSF Railway (BRK-B)
- Union Pacific (UNP)
- Norfolk Southern (NSC)
- CSX Corporation (CSX)
- Kansas City Southern
- Canadian Pacific Railway (CP)
- Canadian National Railway (CNI)
Investors interested in dividend funds can opt for the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG). All US Class I railroads are part of VIG’s portfolio holdings.
You can compare this week’s rail data with the earlier week by reading North American Rail Traffic on Ambiguous Track Last Week.