BNSF Railway’s Traffic Trends in Week 16



BNSF Railway’s carload traffic in Week 16

In the week ended April 21, or Week 16, Berkshire Hathaway–owned BNSF Railway’s (BRK.B) carload volumes rose 10.6% YoY (year-over-year) to ~99,500 railcars from ~90,000. In comparison, rival Union Pacific’s (UNP) carload volumes rose 0.6% YoY. BNSF more than tripled US railroads’ (IYJ) carload volume expansion of 3.5% that week.

Carloads excluding coal and coke comprised 65% of BNSF’s total carloads in Week 16, while coal-and-coke carloads comprised 35%. In the same week last year, these proportions were 64% and 36%, respectively. Week 16’s gains were dominated by 12% growth in carloads other than coal and coke. BNSF hauled ~7,000 more carloads in 2018, exceeding ~64,800 units. Coal-and-coke (ARCH) carload volumes rose 8% YoY in Week 16, to ~34,600 carloads from ~32,000.

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Changes in carload commodity groups

The following commodity volumes rose in Week 16:

  • grain
  • chemicals
  • motor vehicles
  • sand and gravel
  • grain mill products

The following commodity volumes fell in Week 16:

  • metals
  • petroleum products

BNSF intermodal

Intermodal volumes in Week 16

BNSF Railway’s intermodal volumes rose 9.3% YoY in Week 16 to ~102,000 trailers and containers from 99,300. Container traffic grew 6.6% YoY to ~89,300 units from ~83,800, whereas trailer volumes rose significantly, by 32.9% YoY to 12,700 units from~9,600. In the first 16 weeks of 2018, BNSF’s overall railcar traffic rose 4.8%, more than US railroad (GWR) traffic, which grew 3.0%. The next article covers Union Pacific’s freight volumes.


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