Week 47: US rail freight volumes

US railroads carried over 463,600 railcars in the week ended November 25, 2017, up 2.5% YoY (year-over-year), according to the AAR (Association of American Railroads). These rail freight carriers hauled 452,600 railcars in the week ended November 26, 2016. The railcars include intermodal containers and trailers.

In the 47th week of 2017, carload traffic was marginally up 0.2% to over 230,000 carloads compared with ~230,000 units in the corresponding week last year. On the intermodal side, the upward momentum witnessed in the last few weeks continued in week 47. The intermodal volumes surged 4.7% to ~233,300 units from ~223,000 units in the same week of 2016.

Intermodal Pushed US Rail Freight Volumes in Week 47

On a cumulative basis during the first 47 weeks of 2017, the US railroads (IYT) posted cumulative volumes of 12.2 million carloads, up 3% compared with the corresponding period last year. The intermodal volumes of these railroads were 12.6 million containers and trailers, indicating an increase of 3.7% from last year. The combined freight traffic of these railroads for the first 47 weeks of 2017 was 24.8 million carloads and intermodal units, up 3.3% on a year-over-year basis.

Intermodal Pushed US Rail Freight Volumes in Week 47

Change in commodity groups

Out of ten carload commodity groups, four groups reported a rise on a year-over-year basis compared to 2016. These included nonmetallic minerals, metallic ores and metals, and motor vehicles (TM) and parts. On the other hand, commodity groups that reported lower volumes compared with the same week in 2016 included grain, coal, farm products excluding grain, and food.

Canadian and Mexican freight

For Canadian rail carriers (CNI) week 47 was a mixed bag. Their carload growth was flat in that week totaling 78,300 units in the week ended November 25, 2017. However, Canadian railroads’ intermodal traffic was up 8.8% to 65,600 units in the same week. Mexican railroads (KSU) registered a 3.2% rise in carloads to 16,300 units. Their intermodal volumes were very marginally up by 0.1% to 11,000 containers and trailers in the 47th week of 2017.

Let’s look at BNSF Railway’s (BRK-B) freight volumes in the next part.

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