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CSX Tops Week 32’s Rail Traffic Gains, Signaling a Comeback

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CSX’s carload volumes

In Week 32, Eastern US major rail carrier CSX (CSX) reported a 9.7% YoY (year-over-year) growth in carload traffic. The railroad’s carload traffic gains were the highest among all the Class I railroads in that week. The company moved ~73,400 during the week, down from ~66,900 in Week 32 of 2017.

The railroad’s total railcar traffic is slowly getting back on track in 2018. In the last few weeks, CSX’s overall volumes have reported sharp gains YoY. Compared with US railroads’ (XTN) average carload traffic gains of 1.8% in Week 32, CSX witnessed much higher growth in the same category. Its prime competitor, Norfolk Southern (NSC), reported a decline in its carload traffic in Week 32.

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CSX’s traffic excluding coal and coke commodity groups accounted for 72.2% of its overall volumes in Week 32. The railroad’s coal and coke railcar traffic comprised 27.8% of its shipments. The commodity groups sans coal and coke recorded a 7.2% YoY traffic increase to ~53,000 railcars from ~49,400 railcars in the 32nd week of 2017.

Changes in CSX’s carload commodity groups

The following commodity group’s shipments drove volumes higher in Week 32:

  • grain
  • grain mill products
  • chemicals
  • petroleum and petroleum products
  • primary metal products
  • pulp and paper products
  • stone, clay, and glass products

The following commodity groups’ shipments slumped in Week 32:

  • non-metallic minerals
  • crushed stone, sand, and gravel

CSX’s intermodal traffic

CSX’s intermodal volume rose 0.8% YoY to over 57,200 trailers and containers in Week 32, compared to ~56,700 in the same period last year. The railroad’s intermodal unit gains ranked fourth in the week. Union Pacific (UNP), Norfolk Southern, and Kansas City Southern (KSU) ranked first, second, and third, respectively, in the same category.

Container traffic accounted for 96.3% of intermodal units while trailers comprised 3.7%. The company hauled ~55,100 containers in that week, compared with ~54,900 in Week 32 of 2017. Trailer traffic grew 15.2% YoY to 2,100 units from 1,800 in Week 32 of 2017.

CSX’s railcar traffic including intermodal expanded 0.3% YoY in the first 32 weeks of 2018. This was far lower than the 3.9% gain posted by US railroad companies during the same period. 

In the next part, we’ll discuss Kansas City Southern’s (KSU) railcar traffic.

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