US Rail Traffic Tumbles along with Canadian and Mexican Peers



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 July 23, 2016. US railcar (TRN) traffic fell by 5.3% to  ~262,000 units, as compared to nearly 287,000 units in the week ended July 25, 2015.

In this series, we’ll take a look at all major US railroad traffic for the week ended July 23, 2016. You can also compare this week’s rail data from the previous week in How Did Rail Traffic Fare in the Week Ending July 16.

In the week ended July 23, 2016, US intermodal traffic declined by 1.7% to 266,000 units, as compared to ~271,000 units one year previously.

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Four out of ten carload commodity groups registered volume growth in the week ended July 23, 2016. Miscellaneous volumes rose by 28.3%, followed by grain, which rose by 9.2%, and chemicals, which climbed 2.5%. The declining commodity groups were petroleum and petroleum products, which fell by 27.5%, coal (ARLP), which fell by 19.4%, and motor vehicles, which declined by 13.8%.

Canadian and Mexican rail traffic

In the week ended July 23, Canadian rail traffic (CNI) recorded a decline of 10.5% and 1.3%—both in carloads and intermodal. The carloads of Mexican railroads (KSU) recorded a fall of 8.1% for the same week. Intermodal traffic declined by almost 10%.

There are 13 railroads which submit the weekly data. These carriers handle about 95% of total US and Canadian freight traffic. Notably, Class I railroads (BRK-B) account for a lion’s share in freight rail movement.

Remember, investors interested in dividend ETFs can opt for the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG). All US Class I railroads are part of VIG’s portfolio holdings.


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