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For Canadian National, Intermodal Traffic Follows Growth Story

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Canadian National’s intermodal volumes

In the week ended March 25, 2017, Canadian National Railway’s (CNI) overall intermodal volumes rose 24.2%. There was no trailer movement in week 12.

The company moved almost 44,000 containers in the 12th week of 2017, compared to more than 35,000 containers in the corresponding week of 2016. The rise in CNI’s intermodal volumes was much higher than the overall rise reported by US and Canadian railroad companies.

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Why is intermodal traffic important for CNI?

Canadian National’s intermodal segment contributed more than a quarter of CNI’s total revenue in 2016. Of the company’s total carloads in the year, intermodal’s share was ~42.0%. Canadian National also operates one of the largest trucking services in Canada, which supplements its intermodal business.

Canadian National’s competitive advantage is its sole access to the Port of Prince Rupert in British Columbia. CNI also connects Vancouver, British Columbia, with Prince Rupert in a long arc, which provides opportunities for the company to move containers from Asia to the North American heartland.

CNI’s domestic segment is driven by consumer markets and US and Canadian economic growth. Its international segment is influenced by North American economic and trade conditions. In the intermodal segment, the company faces competition from truckload companies such as JB Hunt Transport Services (JBHT), Swift Transportation (SWFT), and Landstar System (LSTR).

ETF investment

If you’re looking for exposure to the transportation sector, you can invest in the Guggenheim S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF (RSP). All US-originated Class I railroad companies are included in the portfolio holdings of RSP.

In the next part of this series, we’ll take a look at Canadian Pacific Railway’s (CP) weekly rail traffic data.

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