US freight rail traffic

Every week, the AAR (Association of American Railroads) publishes North American freight rail data for the previous week. The latest figures are for the week ended March 18, 2017, or the 11th week of the year.

If you want to compare this week’s freight volume data with the previous week’s, check out Market Realist’s Will Surge in US Freight Rail Traffic Continue?

US Freight Rail Traffic in the Green, Canada and Mexico Follow

During the 11th week of 2017, US rail traffic (BRK-B) rose 2.4% YoY (year-over-year) to ~495,000 railcars, compared to nearly 484,000 railcars in the week ended March 19, 2016.

US freight rail traffic volumes were in the fast lane. US carloads rose 4.6% YoY to ~246,000 railcars, compared to over 233,000 railcars in the week ended March 19, 2016.

US intermodal volumes rose a marginal 0.3% to ~249,000 units, compared to 248,000 units during the corresponding period last year.

Data from the first 11 weeks

Total US carload traffic for the first ten weeks of 2017 was ~2.6 million carloads, a rise of 4.9% compared to the same point last year. However, intermodal traffic was up 0.2% from its 2016 levels.

The total combined US traffic for the first ten weeks of 2017 reached more than 5.1 million carloads and intermodal units, representing a rise of 2.5% compared to this time last year.

Coal played a vital role

According to AAR senior official John Gray, “The 19.2% increase in coal carloads in February 2017 was the highest percentage gain for coal since sometime before 1988 when our current record series began.”

Gray added, “While it’s an impressive gain, February 2017 was, unfortunately, also the second worst February in absolute terms for coal since sometime before 1988. It’s all too representative of the challenges railroads are facing as their markets change.”

Canadian and Mexican rail traffic

Canadian rail traffic (CNI) rose 12.4% YoY to nearly 82,000 railcars, while Canadian intermodal traffic rose 11.4% to settle at 60,000 units. For Mexican rail traffic (KSU), while carloads reported a rise of 3.9% YoY during the week ended March 18, 2017, intermodal traffic surged 1.7% YoY in the same week.

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

Continue to the next article for a look at Norfolk Southern’s carloads for the week ended March 18, 2017.

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