Let the US Freight Rail Traffic Revival Begin

US freight rail weekly

Every week, the AAR (Association of American Railroads) publishes the North American freight rail data for the previous week. The latest is for the week ended February 4, 2017—the fifth week of the year.

During the fifth week of 2017, US rail traffic (UNP) rose 7.3% YoY (year-over-year) to over 541,000 railcars, as compared to ~505,000 railcars in the week ended February 6, 2016.

Let the US Freight Rail Traffic Revival Begin

US carloads jumped a handsome 11.7% YoY to around 270,000 railcars for the week, as compared to ~242,000 railcars in the week ended February 6, 2016. Intermodal volumes rose to more than 271,000 units, as expressed in containers and trailers, up from ~263,000 units during the same period last year.

AAR’s outlook for 2017

AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward R. Hamberger stated that “we remain focused on providing the best possible rail network for our customers and all Americans.”

Hamberger added that “as a result, the freight rail industry will advocate for a simpler and fairer tax code to enhance US economic development, promote growth, and reduce debt. Freight railroads will also push for a sustainable funding source that provides for aggressive investment in public infrastructure.”

On February 1, 2017, AAR disclosed that the privately owned US freight rail industry is expected to shell out more than $22 billion on capital investments. This figure is up from the 2016’s overall capex, which was particularly marked by declining coal volumes.

Canadian and Mexican rail traffic

Canadian rail traffic (CNI) rose 14.6% YoY for the week, while intermodal traffic rose 6.3%. Mexican railroads’ (KSU) carloads fell remarkably by 21% during the week ended February 4, 2017. Mexican intermodal traffic fell 9% YoY during the fifth week of 2017.

Investors interested in ETFs could opt for the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG). All US Class I railroads (NSC) are included in VIG’s portfolio holdings.

If you want to compare this week’s freight volume data with the previous week, check out Market Realist’s Your Freight Rail Traffic for the Week Ended January 28.

Continue to the next part for a look at Norfolk Southern’s carloads for the week ended February 4, 2017.