US Rail Traffic Saw Low Single-Digit Growth in Week 25



Week 25: US rail freight traffic

Every week, the AAR (Association of American Railroads) publishes weekly freight data submitted by major North American railroads. On June 27, it published the traffic data for Week 25, which ended on June 23. Investors can get a sense of the overall US economic activity by reviewing this weekly data.

In Week 25, US rail carriers’ (IYJ) total rail traffic, including intermodal, expanded 3.7% YoY (year-over-year.) The railroads hauled ~557,300 railcars that week compared to ~537,300 in last year’s Week 25. Intermodal volumes grew 4.9% YoY to ~288,900 containers and trailers from ~275,400 units.

Changes in carload commodity groups

In Week 25, nine of the ten carload commodity groups reported increases compared to the same week in 2017. They included metallic ores and metals, grain, and chemicals (DWDP). One commodity group registered a decline compared to the corresponding week last year. That commodity was coal.

In the first 25 weeks of 2018, US railroads recorded a cumulative volume of 6.4 million carloads, resulting in a 1.3% YoY growth. These railroads’ intermodal volume was 6.8 million units, up 5.9% from the same period last year. The combined US traffic in the first 25 weeks was 13.3 million carloads and intermodal units, representing a 3.6% YoY growth.

Non-US rail traffic in Week 25

Canadian rail carriers (CNI) registered a 6.5% YoY carload growth of ~83,300 units in Week 25. Their intermodal traffic rose 4.1% YoY to ~69,900 containers and trailers. For the first 25 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads posted a cumulative traffic volume of 3.6 million carloads and intermodal units, a rise of 3.5% YoY.

Mexican railroad (KSU) companies moved ~21,500 carloads and ~17,400 intermodal units in Week 25. On a cumulative basis, these railroads hauled ~952,300 carloads, containers, and trailers in the first 25 weeks of 2018.

In the next part of this series, we’ll look at BNSF Railway’s (BRK.B) traffic volumes in Week 25.

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