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Why Kansas City Southern’s Freight Volumes Fell Last Week

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KSU’s freight volumes in the 38th week

Kansas City Southern (KSU), the smallest US Class I railroad was affected by Hurricane Harvey and saw its railcar volumes fall 0.3% to ~26,000 railcars last week (ended September 23, 2017), which was almost equal to its carloads in the week ended September 25, 2016.

But KSU’s carloads other than coal (ARLP) and coke rose 0.4% to ~21,000 units. Coal and coke carloads pulled down overall volumes, falling 3% to ~4,900 units, compared with 5,000 units in last year’s 38th week. The company reported an overall volume loss compared with other US railroads in the 38th week of 2017.

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KSU’s changes in commodity groups last week

KSU saw the following commodity groups post volume gains in the 38th week:

  • crushed stone, sand, and gravel
  • petroleum products (UNG)
  • stone, clay and glass products
  • metals and products

But the following commodity groups’ volumes were in the red zone last week:

  • grain
  • chemicals and allied products
  • motor vehicles and equipment (TM)
  • iron and steel scrap

KSU’s intermodal traffic

In the 38th week of 2017, KSU reported a 7% fall in intermodal traffic to ~20,000 trailers and containers, down from ~21,000 units during the same week last year. Containers dominated KSU’s intermodal traffic last week but fell 6.7% to ~19,500 units, compared with ~21,000 units in the same week last year.

Trailers accounted for 2%–3% of KSU’s intermodal traffic, but trailer volumes fell 20.4% in the 38th week of 2017, totaling only 300 trailers, compared with ~400 trailers during the same week last year.

In the next part, we’ll discuss Canadian National Railway’s (CNI) freight volumes last week.

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