Rail traffic rebounded

After registering a 6.7% rail traffic decline in week 46, Kansas City Southern (KSU) made a remarkable turnaround. The company’s total rail traffic increased 3.9% YoY in week 47 to 43,548 units from 41,917 units in the same week last year. The YoY growth was mainly driven by a strong recovery in carload and intermodal traffic.

Kansas City Southern’s traffic volume gain was the fourth-highest among all of the Class I railroad companies during the week. Canadian National Railway (CNI) was first among all of the Class I railroad companies in week 47 with a 7.3% YoY gain in rail traffic. Union Pacific (UNP) and Norfolk Southern (NSC) were second and third with a gain of 5.9% and 4.4%, respectively.

Kansas City Southern’s Rail Traffic Rose in Week 47

Carload traffic

In week 47, the company reported a 4.7% YoY increase in its carload traffic. Kansas City Southern moved 24,074 railcars, excluding intermodal units, in week 47—compared to 22,996 units in week 47 of 2017. The increase in the company’s carload traffic was much higher than the 1.7% growth reported by US railroad companies (IYJ).

Commodities, excluding coal and coke carloads, accounted for 87% of Kansas City Southern’s total carload traffic in week 47. Coal and coke railcars accounted for 13% of the company’s total carloads. Commodities, excluding coal and coke, reported 11.2% YoY traffic growth in week 47. Kansas City Southern hauled 20,847 railcars, excluding coal and coke, in week 47—compared to 18,755 units in week 47 of 2017. Coal and coke traffic fell 23.9% YoY in the week to 3,227 railcars from 4,241 railcars.

The commodity groups, excluding coal and coke, that reported notable volume growth in week 47, included non-metallic minerals, grain, food and kindred products, chemicals and allied products, petroleum products, motor vehicles and equipment, and iron and steel scrap. The commodity groups that recorded a YoY decline in their volumes in week 46 included grain mill products, stone, clay and glass products, and metal products.

Intermodal volumes

Kansas City Southern reported a 2.9% YoY increase in intermodal traffic in week 47. The company carried 19,474 containers and trailers in week 47—compared to 18,921 units in the same week last year. Kansas City Southern’s container volumes rose 3.5% YoY to 19,133 units in week 47—compared to 17,479 units in 2017. However, the company’s trailer traffic fell 22.9% YoY to 341 units from 442 units.

Next, we’ll discuss Norfolk Southern’s rail traffic performance.

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