How BNSF Railway’s Freight Rail Traffic Trended in Week 32



BNSF Railway’s railcars in week 32

BNSF Railway (BRK-B) and rival Union Pacific (UNP) operate in the Western US. The company has witnessed the highest growth in freight volumes so far in 2017 in the peer group except for Canadian National Railway (CNI). In the week ended August 12, 2017, BNSF’s railcars excluding intermodal were up 4.8%. Compared to nearly 89,000 railcars in the corresponding week last year, BNSF Railway hauled 92,000 plus railcars in week 32 of 2017.

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In contrast with the overall rise, BNSF Railway registered a 6.2% decline in railcars excluding coal and coke. These shipments were ~53,000 railcars in the 32nd week of 2017 compared with over 56,000 in the same week last year. On the positive side, the company’s coal and coke railcars grew 22.4%. BNSF hauled over 39,000 railcars in week 32 against 32,000 plus railcars last year.

BNSF Railway’s rise in railcar volumes was much higher compared to the slight growth in shipments recorded by US railroads in the reported week of 2017.

Intermodal volumes in week 32

In the week ended August 12, 2017, BNSF reported 8.4% growth in total intermodal traffic in week 32 of 2017. The company hauled ~101,000 trailers and containers during the week compared with 93,000 units in the 32nd week last year.

Unlike other Class I railroads, trailers account for slightly more than 10% of total intermodal volumes for BNSF Railway. In the reported week of 2017, trailers accounted for 9.9% of total volumes compared with 10.3% in week 32 last year. The company moved 10,000 trailers against 9,500 trailers in the reported week last year. Container volumes were up 8.8% to 91,000 units.

Barring CNI, BNSF leads its Class I peers in intermodal growth in 2017. The latter’s intermodal growth continued to outpace US railroads in the 32nd week as well.

ETF investment

Investors wanting to invest in transportation stocks can consider investing in the SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (XTN). This ETF holds around 40% in major trucking (JBHT) and railroad (NSC) companies in the US.

Read the next part of the series for an update on Kansas City Southern’s (KSU) volumes in week 32.


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