Union Pacific versus BNSF: A Snapshot of Week 22 Rail Traffic



Union Pacific’s carload traffic in Week 22

Omaha-headquartered Union Pacific (UNP) is a western US railroad giant, competing with BNSF Railway (BRK.B). In Week 22, UNP’s carload traffic grew 1.8% YoY (year-over-year) to ~90,800 railcars, excluding intermodal, from ~89,200. The company’s carload traffic was marginally higher than that of rival BNSF Railway, which recorded 1.5% YoY growth. Union Pacific’s carload volume growth was much higher than the 0.22% gains recorded by US railroad companies (XTN).

Union Pacific’s carloads other than coal (ARCH) and coke grew 6.5% YoY in Week 22 from ~66,500 to over 70,700 carloads. In the week, the railroad company’s coal and coke carloads slumped 12% YoY to more than 20,000 units from ~22,800 units.

Changes in carload commodity groups

The following commodity groups’ shipments recorded gains in Week 22:

  • crushed stone, sand, and gravel
  • grain mill products
  • lumber and wood products
  • petroleum products
  • metals and products
  • motor vehicles and equipment

The following commodity groups’ volumes declined in Week 22:

  • grain
  • nonmetallic minerals
  • stone, clay, and glass products
  • waste and nonferrous scrap

UNP’s intermodal volumes in Week 22

While Union Pacific‘s intermodal volumes grew 7.8% YoY in Week 22, BNSF Railway’s intermodal volumes grew ~8% YoY in Week 22. UNP moved 71,800 trailers and containers and in the week, up from ~66,600. Container traffic rose 7.2% YoY to ~69,000 units from over 64,300. Trailer volumes rose 25.3% YoY to 2,800 units from less than 2,300.

In the first 22 weeks of the year, Union Pacific’s railcar traffic including intermodal grew 3.1% YoY. This rise reflected a slight underperformance compared to the 3.6% gain reported by US railroad companies (GWR) during the same period. In the next article, we’ll review Norfolk Southern’s (NSC) rail traffic.

More From Market Realist