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Intermodal Volumes Pushed Union Pacific’s Rail Traffic in Week 40

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UNP’s carload traffic in Week 40

Major Western US railroad company Union Pacific (UNP) recorded a ~1% YoY (year-over-year) fall in Week 40 carload traffic. In the week, the company carried ~95,300 railcars sans intermodal units compared to ~96,300 in the comparable week of 2017.

The reduction in Union Pacific’s carload traffic was offset by a 5.9% YoY rise in its intermodal traffic in Week 40. The company remained in fourth place in terms of Week 40 rail traffic gains at 2%. UNP’s carload volume loss stood in contrast to rival BNSF Railway’s (BRK.B) 3.8% gains and US railroad companies’ overall 0.7% gains in the week.

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Commodity groups excluding coal and coke made up 75.9% of UNP’s total carloads in Week 40. Coal and coke railcars made up the remaining 24.1% of its total carloads. Traffic of commodity groups except coal and coke recorded 2.7% YoY falls to ~72,400 units in Week 40 from 74,400 units in the corresponding period last year. UNP’s coal and coke railcars, however, grew 5% YoY to ~23,000 units from ~21,900 units.

Changes in UNP’s carload commodity groups

The following commodity groups’ volumes pushed total carloads in Week 40:

  • grain mill products
  • food and kindred products
  • lumber and wood products
  • chemicals
  • petroleum products
  • motor vehicles and equipment

The following commodity groups’ volumes pulled down total carloads in Week 40:

  • grain
  • crushed stone, gravel, and sand
  • non-metallic minerals
  • pulp, paper, and allied products
  • farm products except for grain

Week 40 intermodal traffic

In Week 40, Union Pacific’s intermodal gains were second-highest among all Class I railroad companies. The company’s intermodal traffic expanded 5.9% YoY in the week. Norfolk Southern (NSC) was at the top with a 7.3% YoY rise in the week’s intermodal traffic. UNP was followed by Kansas City Southern (KSU), which reported a 4.9% YoY rise. It was followed by Canadian Pacific Railway (CP), which posted a 2.6% rise in intermodal volumes in Week 40.

Union Pacific moved ~79,300 containers and trailers In Week 40 compared to ~74,700 units in the same week in 2017. Container traffic grew ~5.5% YoY to ~75,400 units compared to ~71,500 units. Trailer volumes rose 15.1% YoY to 3,800 units in the week from ~3,300 in the comparable period of 2017.

In the first 40 weeks of 2018, Union Pacific’s overall railcar traffic expanded 4.0% YoY. The company’s rail traffic growth was marginally higher than US railroad (IYT) companies’ 3.9% gains during the same period. In the next article, we’ll consider Norfolk Southern’s traffic.

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