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Did CSX’s Intermodal Volumes Align with the Industry’s Last Week?

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CSX’s intermodal volumes

In recent weeks, CSX Corporation’s (CSX) intermodal traffic was almost flat. In the week ended April 22, 2017, its intermodal volumes fell 2.3%. Overall intermodal volumes reached 53,000, compared to 54,500 units in the week ended April 23, 2016. Trailer volumes were flat at 1,800 units compared to last year.

In the 16th week of 2017, CSX’s intermodal volumes were lower than rival Norfolk Southern’s (NSC), and they were similar to the data reported by US railroad companies overall.

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Why intermodal matters for CSX

Key corridors such as the I-95, I-90, and certain southeastern US corridors drive growth in merchandise and intermodal volumes. CSX expects 96.0% clearance for its double-stack container traffic on the East Coast at the end of 2017. Its new Carolina Connector terminal is expected to provide hub connectivity to additional lanes in the mid-Atlantic market.

For CSX, excess truck capacity is a deterrent to intermodal business growth. The company expects some short-haul volume losses in the domestic intermodal space over the next few quarters. It’s hopeful that the implementation of trucking regulations such as the electronic logging device could tighten truck capacity. These regulations could lead to higher intermodal volumes in the future.

Railroad companies (GWR) are four times more fuel-efficient than trucks (JBHT). About half of US rail intermodal volumes consist of imports and exports. Railroads are also more environmentally desirable than truck freight transportation, given the latter’s heavy reliance on highways.

ETFs

If you prefer broad-based exposure to the transportation space, you could consider the VanEck Vectors Morningstar Wide Moat ETF (MOAT). All major US-originated railroad companies are included in MOAT’s portfolio.

In the next part of this series, we’ll look at Union Pacific’s (UNP) freight volumes and trends.

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