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CSX versus the Industry: Week 26 Freight Volumes

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CSX’s freight volumes

In the week ended July 1, 2017, Jacksonville-based CSX (CSX) recorded a 2.7% jump in overall railcars, excluding intermodal. In the 26th week of the year, CSX hauled more than 71,000 railcars, compared with over 69,000 railcars in the same week of 2016.

On the lines of rival Norfolk Southern (NSC), CSX’s railcars other than coal and coke fell 4.5% to ~54,000 carloads from 56,000 carloads in the comparable week of 2016.

In the 26th week of 2017, the rise in CSX’s total railcar volumes was restricted by the fall in volumes of railcars other than coal and coke. However, the company’s overall rise in carloads was in line with the growth reported by US railroads during the same week.

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Coal volumes

The percentage of coal carloads in CSX’s overall carloads in the week ended July 1, 2017, rose to 24.7% from 19.1% during the same period last year. The company hauled ~17,500 railcars of coal and coke, compared with ~13,000 railcars in the 26th week of 2016.

Unlike rival Norfolk Southern (NSC), which reported a single-digit rise in coal volumes, CSX recorded a solid 33.2% growth in coal volumes. While reporting US railroads’ coal carloads had risen 10% as of the 26th week of 2017, CSX’s growth in coal and coke carloads was phenomenal.

Present coal dynamics

According to the EIA (US Energy Information Administration), coal exports in 1Q17 rose 58% over the same quarter last year. Steam coal exports (UGAZ) grew by 6 million short tons (MMst). Interestingly, coal producers, which finished their bankruptcy reorganizations along with companies that bought bankrupt assets, have increased production as well as exports in 2017.

Major US coal producers such as Consol Energy (CNX) and Alliance Resource Partners (ARLP) hope to gain from President Trump’s promises about coal as a key resource for future electricity generation.

Changes in commodity groups

The commodities in the green zone in the 26th week of 2017 included the following:

  • nonmetallic minerals
  • crushed stone, sand, and gravel
  • chemicals

The main commodity groups with lower volumes included the following:

  • petroleum and petroleum products
  • motor vehicles and parts
  • iron and steel scrap
  • food products

Now let’s examine CSX’s intermodal traffic in the 26th week.

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