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CSX: Weakness in Intermodal Hurt Its Rail Traffic Growth

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Rail traffic

CSX’s (CSX) rail traffic volume growth in week 47 was the slowest among Class I railroad companies. The company’s rail traffic grew 0.4% YoY (year-over-year) in week 47. The gain in carloads was mainly offset by weakness in the Intermodal segment. CSX hauled 110,092 railcars in week 47—compared to 109,624 railcars in week 47 of 2017.

In the first 47 weeks of 2018, CSX recorded a 1.3% YoY increase in its railcar traffic. The railroad’s rail traffic gains were lower than US railroad (FTXR) companies’ 3.7% gain during the same period.

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Intermodal traffic declined

In week 47, CSX and BNFS Railway were the only companies that registered a YoY decline in intermodal traffic. CSX’s intermodal traffic fell 1% in week 47 to 49,868 containers and trailers—compared to 50,403 units in week 47 of 2017. Among the gainers, Union Pacific (UNP) was first with an 11.5% intermodal volume gain. Norfolk Southern (NSC) and Canadian National Railway (CNI) were second and third in week 47 with increases of 8.2% and 6.2%, respectively.

CSX’s container traffic fell 1.3% YoY to 47,641 units in week 47 from 48,287 units in the same week last year. However, CSX’s trailer volumes grew 5.3% YoY to 2,227 units from 2,116 units. In the first 47 weeks of 2018, CSX’s intermodal traffic growth rose 1.9% YoY—much lower than US railroad companies’ 5.6% YoY gain during the same period.

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Carload traffic

CSX posted 1.7% YoY carload traffic growth in week 47. The company hauled 60,224 railcars, excluding intermodal units, in week 47—compared to 59,221 units in week 47 of 2017. The company’s carload traffic growth was on par with US rail carriers’ gains during the week.

CSX’s carloads of commodity groups, except coal and coke, accounted for 78% of its total carload traffic in week 47. The company’s coal and coke traffic accounted for 22% of its total carloads. The commodity groups’ traffic, excluding coal and coke, increased 4.6% YoY in week 47 to 46,898 railcars from 44,844 railcars. The coal and coke traffic declined 7.3% YoY to 13,326 railcars from 14,377 railcars.

The commodity groups, excluding coal and coke, that reported notable volume growth in week 47 included grain, petroleum and petroleum products, metal products, forest products, pulp and paper products, iron and steel scrap, motor vehicle and parts, and metallic ores. The commodity groups that recorded a YoY decline in the volumes in week 47 included farm and food products, crushed stone, sand and gravel, non-metallic minerals, and grain mill products.

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