Intermodal drove rail traffic volume
Norfolk Southern (NSC) reported 4.4% YoY growth in its rail traffic volume in week 47. The company hauled 134,716 total cars—compared to 129,058 units in the same week last year. The YoY growth was mainly driven by the strong performance in Norfolk Southern’s intermodal business. The growth was partially offset by weakness in the Carload segment.
Norfolk Southern’s intermodal traffic expanded 8.2% YoY in week 47 to 77,073 containers and trailers—compared to 71,212 units last year. The company’s container traffic grew 8.5% YoY to 69,244 units from 63,812 units. Norfolk Southern’s trailer volumes increased 5.8% YoY to 7,829 units from 7,400 units in week 47 of 2017.
Norfolk Southern reported a 0.4% YoY fall in its carload traffic in week 47. The company hauled 57,646 railcars, excluding intermodal units, in week 47—compared to 57,846 in the same week last year.
Compared to Norfolk Southern’s carload loss, CSX (CSX) reported a 1.7% YoY rise in week 47. In terms of the carload traffic growth, Canadian National Railway (CNI) was first among all of the Class I railroad companies (FXR) with an 8.1% gain in week 47. BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) were second and third with a carload gain of 7.3% and 5.1%, respectively. With a loss of 2.4%, Union Pacific was the worst performer in terms of the carload traffic growth.
In week 47, Norfolk Southern’s commodity groups, excluding coal and coke, accounted for 71% of its total carload traffic. Coal and coke traffic accounted for 29% of the company’s total carloads. The commodity groups’ traffic, excluding coal and coke, improved 0.8% YoY to 41,208 units from 40,900 units. The coal and coke volumes declined 3% YoY to 16,438 units in the week from 16,946 units.
The commodity groups, excluding coal and coke, that reported notable volume growth in week 47 included petroleum products, grain, farm products, iron and steel scrap, metals and products, lumber and wood products, metallic ores, and non-metallic minerals. The commodity groups that recorded a YoY decline in the week 47 volumes included chemicals, crushed stone, sand and gravel, food and kindred products, motor vehicles and equipment, and pulp, paper, and allied products.
Next, we’ll discuss Canadian Pacific’s rail traffic performance.