Highest traffic gainer
Norfolk Southern (NSC) reported the highest traffic volume growth among all of the Class I railroads (XTN) for the first week of 2019. The company posted a 15.8% YoY increase in its rail traffic volumes driven primarily by robust growth in carloads and intermodal units. The Eastern US railroad company carried 126,263 total units compared to 109,066 units in the same week of the previous year.
Moreover, the company’s rail traffic growth in the first week was much higher than the overall 4.8% gain registered by US railroad companies. CSX (CSX), Canadian National (CNI), and BNSF Railway were second, third, and fourth with 9.9%, 9.3%, and 6.8% gains, respectively.
Norfolk Southern’s carload traffic grew for the fourth consecutive week. During the first week, the Eastern US railroad company’s carload traffic rose 24.4% YoY, making it the top gainer among Class I railroad companies. Norfolk Southern hauled 60,893 railcars in Week 1 compared to 48,954 in the same period of the previous year. All Class I railroad companies registered YoY growth in their carload traffic except Kansas City Southern (KSU), which reported flat YoY numbers.
Commodities excluding coal and coke accounted for 68% of Norfolk Southern’s Week 1 total carload traffic. Coal and coke traffic contributed 32% of its total carloads. Rail traffic of commodities excluding coal and coke increased 14.6% YoY to 41,605 units from 36,320 units. Coal and coke volumes grew 52.7% YoY to 19,288 units in the week from 12,634 units.
Commodities excluding coal and coke that experienced notable volume growth in the first week included chemicals, grain, petroleum products, metals, and iron and steel scrap. Commodities that recorded YoY falls in Week 1 volumes were forest products and motor vehicles and equipment.
Norfolk Southern’s intermodal traffic increased 8.7% YoY in Week 1 to 65,370 containers and trailers compared to 60,112 units in the previous year. The company’s container traffic expanded 11.4% YoY to 59,159 units from 53,118 units. However, its trailer volumes decreased 11.2% YoY to 6,211 units from 6,994 units in Week 1 of 2018.
Next, we’ll discuss CSX’s rail traffic trends.