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Double-Digit Growth for US Rail Freight Traffic in Week 51

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US rail freight traffic in week 51

Overall, 2017 turned out to be a better year for US railroads than 2016. US railroads showed growth on both the carload and intermodal fronts. On December 27, 2017, the AAR (Association of American Railroads) released the weekly rail traffic data of North American railroads (IYJ) for the 51st week (ended December 23, 2017) of 2017.

US rail freight companies reported a low double-digit rise in volume in the 51st week. These railroads carried nearly 550,000 railcars, which was ~11% higher YoY (year-over-year) than the ~497,000 railcars we saw in the week ended December 24, 2016. Railcars include intermodal containers and trailers.

US railroad carload traffic rose 10.8%, reaching over 270,000 railcars in the 51st week, compared with ~244,000 units during the corresponding week of last year. Intermodal volumes also jumped by 11.3% in the reported week of 2017.

US railroads (NSC) carried over 281,200 trailers and containers in week 51, compared with 252,700 units in last year’s corresponding week.

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Commodity group volume trends

In the 51st week of 2017, nine of the ten commodity groups reported a rise over the same week last year. These groups included nonmetallic minerals, metallic ores and metals, and coal (BTU). The commodity group that posted a fall during the same week was grain.

Cumulative volumes

For the first 51 weeks of 2017, US railroads (CSX) reported a cumulative volume of 13.2 million carloads, which was up 3.1% from the same point last year. These railroads hauled 13.8 million intermodal units, reflecting a rise of 4% from last year’s corresponding period. The total combined US traffic for the first 51 weeks of 2017 was 27.1 million carloads and intermodal units—up 3.6% over last year.

In the next part, we’ll assess BNSF Railway’s (BRK-B) freight data.

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