US Rail Freight Traffic Rises in Week 13



Week 13: US rail freight traffic

The AAR (Association of American Railroads) publishes weekly freight data for major North American railroads every Wednesday. The AAR has classified carload traffic into 20 major commodity categories, such as coal, grain, chemicals, and primary metal products. Intermodal traffic in containers and truck trailers is reported separately.

On April 4, 2018, AAR published freight data on North American rail carriers for the week ended March 31, 2018, or Week 13. In that week, US rail carriers’ (GWR) overall rail traffic expanded 2.8%. These railroads hauled ~534,800 railcars in Week 13, compared with ~520,200 units in the week ended April 1, 2017. Week 13 saw carload traffic and intermodal volumes both grow 2.8%.

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Changes in carload commodity groups

In Week 13 of 2018, eight of the ten carload commodity groups reported a volume rise YoY (year-over-year). These groups included coal, chemicals, and grain. In contrast, volumes of farm products excluding grain, food, petroleum, and petroleum products (UNG) fell.

Total US carload traffic in the first three months of 2018 was 3.3 million carloads, 0.3% lower YoY. These railroads carried 3.5 million intermodal units, a 5.5% rise YoY. Combined traffic stood at 6.8 million carloads, and intermodal units rose 2.6% YoY.

Non-US railroads’ rail traffic

Canadian rail carriers (CP) carried ~82,100 carloads in Week 13 of 2018, up 1.3% YoY. With ~69,000 containers and trailers, their intermodal volumes rose 8.5% YoY.

Mexican railroads (KSU) registered a 3% fall in carload traffic, moving 20,060 units. These rail carriers hauled more than 14,300 intermodal units, a fall of 22.2%. Let’s begin this weekly railroad series by looking at BNSF Railway’s (BRK.B) railcars.


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