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Strong Intermodal Growth Drove Union Pacific’s Rail Traffic Higher

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Strong intermodal traffic growth

Union Pacific (UNP) reported a YoY (year-over-year) increase of 8.1% in its rail traffic volumes in Week 2. The company hauled 176,069 railcars during the week compared to 162,910 railcars in Week 2 of 2018. 

However, UNP’s rail traffic gain was slightly lower than US railroad (IYT) companies’ overall 8.4% gain during the same period.

The YoY increase in Union Pacific’s rail traffic was mainly driven by strong growth in intermodal units. During the week, the railroad company’s intermodal traffic grew 12.8% YoY to 81,447 containers and trailers from 72,173 units in the same period of the previous year. The company carried 77,921 containers in the week compared to 68,904 containers in the same week in 2018. Moreover, its trailer volumes expanded 7.9% YoY to 3,526 units compared to 3,269 units in Week 2 of 2018.

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Union Pacific’s intermodal traffic gain was the third-highest among all Class I railroad companies. Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and Canadian National Railway (CNI) hold the top two spots with gains of 14% and 13.3%, respectively. Kansas City Southern (KSU) was the only Class I railroad company to report a decline in its intermodal units.

Carload traffic

Union Pacific’s carload traffic grew 4.3% YoY in the second week. The company carried 94,622 railcars excluding intermodal units compared to 90,737 carloads in the same period last year. Commodities excluding coal and coke posted a 4.1% YoY increase in traffic to 71,234 railcars from 68,415 railcars. Moreover, coal and coke traffic grew 4.8% YoY in Week 2 to 23,388 carloads from 22,322 carloads in Week 2 of 2018.

Commodities that reported notable volume growth in Week 2 included chemicals, metallic ores, nonmetallic minerals, petroleum products, and metal products. Commodities that recorded YoY falls in volumes in Week 2 were forest products and motor vehicles and equipment.

Next, we’ll look at Kansas City Southern’s rail traffic performance.

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