uploads///BNSF Carloads

Comparing BNSF Railway’s Freight Volumes with the Industry in Week 36

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Nov. 20 2020, Updated 4:26 p.m. ET

BNSF Railway’s railcar volumes

Berkshire Hathaway–owned BNSF Railway (BRK-B) operates in the Western US along with Union Pacific (UNP). The company’s railcar traffic fell 1.4% in the week ended September 9, 2017. Its volumes declined to ~98,000 railcars in that week from 99,000 units in the week ended September 10, 2016.

BNSF witnessed a 5.2% decline in its carloads other than coal and coke. This metric was ~54,000 units in week 36 of 2017. However, the company’s coal and coke volumes saw 3.7% gains. These volumes totaled ~44,000 railcars in the reported week of 2017 compared with 42,000 carloads in 2016.

In the 36th week of 2017, compared with rival UNP’s fall in railcars, BNSF registered a much smaller decline. BNSF’s volume decline was in line with US railroads.

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BNSF’s intermodal shipments

Unlike railcars, BNSF Railway recorded an 8.6% rise in overall intermodal volumes in the week ended September 9, 2017. The container and trailer volumes totaled ~93,000 in that week compared with more than 85,000 units in the week ended September 10, 2016.

Containers account for slightly less than 90% of overall intermodal traffic for BNSF Railway. These volumes were up 8.1% to 82,000-plus containers from 76,000-plus units in 2016. Its trailers saw a 13% rise in volumes to more than 10,000 units in the reported week.

BNSF’s intermodal traffic rise was much higher compared with the 3.6% growth reported by US railroads in the 36th week of 2017.

ETF investment

Investors who seek exposure to transportation stocks can hold them indirectly by investing in the SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (XTN). This ETF holds ~40% in key trucking (ODFL) and rail carriers (NSC) in the US.

In the next part of this series, we’ll look at Kansas City Southern (KSU).

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