US Rail Traffic Down, Canadian and Mexican Railroads Offer Mixed Bag



US rail traffic

Every Wednesday morning, the AAR (Association of American Railroads) releases the weekly freight rail volumes data for the previous week. The latest report is for the week ended September 3, 2016.

During this week, US carloads (UNP) fell by 4.9%, at 273,000-plus units from over 287,000 units in the week ended September 5, 2015. You can compare this week’s rail data from the previous week in North American Freight Rail Traffic for Week of September 3.

In the reported week of 2016, US intermodal volumes fell by 5% to ~266,000 units from nearly 280,000 units during the same period in 2015. On an overall basis, US total freight rail traffic in the week ended September 3, 2016, was down by ~5%.

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Five out of ten carload commodity groups registered volume growth in the week ended September 3, 2016. Grain volumes were up by 30.2%, followed by miscellaneous carloads up by 24.1%, and motor vehicles and parts up by 5.5%. The declining commodity groups were petroleum and petroleum products, which were down by 24.4%; coal (ARLP), which was down by 16.2%; and metallic ores and forest products, which were down by 6.8%.

Canadian and Mexican rail traffic

In the latest reported week, Canadian rail traffic (CNI) recorded an increase of 0.4%. Even, its intermodal traffic was marginally down by 0.4% in the week ended September 3, 2016. The carloads of Mexican railroads (KSU) recorded a fall of 10.5% in the reported week of 2016. However, the intermodal traffic was up by 5.2% in the week ended September 3, 2016.

There are 13 freight railroads that submit weekly data to the AAR. These carriers handle about 95% of the total US and Canadian freight traffic. Class I railroads (BRK-B) account for a significant share in freight rail movement.

Investors interested in dividends ETFs can opt for the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG). All US Class I railroads are part of the portfolio holdings of VIG.

For more information on major US railroad stocks, please visit Market Realist’s Railroads page.

In this series, we’ll take a look at all Class I railroads’ total volumes for the week ended September 3, 2016.


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