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Kansas City Southern: Worst Rail Traffic Performance among Peers

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Rail traffic decline

Kansas City Southern’s (KSU) rail traffic volume declined 6.7% YoY to 44,382 units mainly due to a decrease in carload and intermodal traffic. Kansas City Southern’s rail traffic decline in week 46 was in contrast to the 0.04% gain registered by US railroad companies.

The smallest class I railroad’s traffic volume loss was the highest among all class I railroad companies (XLI) during the week. Apart from KSU, Norfolk Southern (NSC), and BNSF Railway (BRK.B) also registered lower YoY traffic volume. Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) ranked first among all class I railroad companies in week 46 with a 10% YoY gain in rail traffic.

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Carload traffic

In week 46, the company reported a 9% YoY fall in its carload traffic. KSU moved 24,249 railcars excluding intermodal units in the week compared to 26,640 units in week 46 of 2017. The decline in the company’s carload traffic was much higher than the 1.1% slump reported by US railroad companies (IYJ).

Commodities excluding coal and coke carloads made up 86% of KSU’s total carload traffic in week 42. Coal and coke railcars made up 14% of its total carloads. Commodities excluding coal and coke reported a 5% YoY traffic loss in the week. KSU hauled 20,734 railcars excluding coal and coke in the week compared to 21,817 units in week 46 of 2017. Coal and coke traffic fell 27.1% YoY in the week to 3,515 railcars from 4,823 railcars.

Commodity groups excluding coal and coke that reported notable volume growth in week 46 include non-metallic minerals, grain mill products, food & kindred products, chemicals & allied products, petroleum products, motor vehicles & equipment, and iron & steel scrap. Commodity groups recording a YoY decline in week 46 volumes included grain, food products, stone, clay & glass products, and metal products.

KSU’s intermodal volumes

Kansas City Southern reported a 3.9% YoY fall in intermodal traffic in week 46. The company carried 20,133 containers and trailers in the week compared to 20,942 units in the corresponding week last year. KSU’s container volumes fell 3.8% YoY to 19,809 units in the week from 20,582 units in 2017. Its trailer traffic contracted 10% YoY to 324 units from 360 units.

In the next article, we’ll review Norfolk Southern’s (NSC) rail traffic performance.

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