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Carload Gains Drive BNSF Railway’s Traffic in Week 23

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Nov. 20 2020, Updated 2:51 p.m. ET

BNSF Railway’s carloads in Week 23

In Week 23, Western US major rail carrier BNSF Railway’s (BRK.B) carload traffic, excluding intermodal, rose 10.2% YoY (year-over-year) to ~103,600 railcars from ~94,000. The railroad’s weekly gains were the highest among Class I US railroads, far higher than competitor Union Pacific’s (UNP) 0.8% YoY rise, and US railroads’ (IYJ) 2.8% YoY rise.

Carloads other than coal (ARCH) and coke comprised 65% of BNSF’s total volumes in Week 23 and jumped ~13.7% YoY to 67,000 units from 59,000. Coal and coke carloads rose 4.4% YoY to ~36,600 units from ~35,000.

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Changes in BNSF’s carload commodity groups

The following commodity groups’ volumes grew in Week 23:

  • grain
  • chemicals
  • motor vehicles
  • food
  • sand and gravel
  • petroleum

The following commodity groups’ volumes shrank in Week 23:

  • metallic ores
  • coke
  • farm (not grain)

BNSF’s intermodal traffic

In Week 23, BNSF Railway’s intermodal traffic grew ~2.4% YoY to ~107,500 containers and trailers from 104,500. However, the railroad’s intermodal traffic gains were much lower than US railroads’ during the week. Its container volumes contracted 0.5% YoY to ~93,800 containers from ~94,300, and its trailer traffic rose 28% YoY to 13,700 units from ~10,700.

BNSF’s total rail traffic grew 5% YoY in the first 23 weeks of this year, whereas US railroads’ (GWR) grew by an average of 3.6%. Next, we’ll look at Union Pacific’s volumes.

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