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Assessing Canadian National Railway’s Week 38 Traffic Trends


Nov. 20 2020, Updated 4:45 p.m. ET

CNI’s carload traffic

In Week 38, Canadian National Railway (CNI) registered a 3.1% YoY (year-over-year) carload traffic gain. In the week, Canada’s largest rail company carried ~65,500 railcars other than intermodal units compared to ~63,500 railcars in Week 38 of 2017.

In terms of carload traffic gains, Canadian National Railway was in fourth place. Its rival Canadian Pacific Railway’s (CP) 10.9% YoY carload traffic gain topped its gain in Week 38. CP was followed by Eastern US railroad company CSX Corporation (CSX), which remained in second place with a 7.6% YoY gain. Berkshire Hathaway–owned BNSF Railway (BRK.B) was in third place with a carload traffic gain of 6.4%. Norfolk Southern (NSC), another Eastern US rail carrier, was the only Class I railroad company to report lower YoY carload traffic in Week 38.

Coal and coke traffic made up 10% of CNI’s total carloads in Week 38. The traffic of commodity groups except coal and coke expanded 1.9% to 59,000 railcars in the week from ~58,000 units in the corresponding week of 2017. Coal and coke traffic jumped 16% YoY to ~6,500 railcars from ~5,600 railcars.

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Changes in CNI’s commodity groups

The following carload commodity groups’ shipments expanded in Week 38:

  • forest products
  • chemicals
  • petroleum products
  • metallic ore
  • grain

The following carload commodity groups’ volumes contracted in Week 38:

  • crushed stone
  • metal products
  • stone, clay, and glass products
  • metallic ore
  • automotive
  • farm products

CNI’s intermodal traffic

Canadian National Railway’s intermodal volumes grew 3.6% YoY in Week 38. The company hauled ~55,300 containers in the week compared to ~53,300 containers in Week 38 of 2017. Unlike other rail carriers’ intermodal units, CNI’s units are represented by containers only.

Canadian National Railway’s total rail traffic expanded 3.8% YoY in the first 38 weeks of 2018. The company’s gains equaled the gains posted by Canadian rail carriers during the same period. CNI’s gains were slightly lower than the average 4% gain posted by US railroad (IYT) companies in the first 38 weeks of 2018.

We’ll conclude our weekly railroad series by considering Canadian Pacific Railway’s rail traffic trend.


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