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CSX’s Week 5 Rail Traffic Hurt by Weak Intermodal Performance

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Intermodal units

CSX’s (CSX) total rail traffic fell 11.9% YoY (year-over-year) to 110,216 railcars in Week 5 from the 125,057 railcars it moved in the same week last year.

Another railroad company, Norfolk Southern (NSC), also reported an 11.9% fall in its Week 5 rail traffic volumes. CSX and Norfolk Southern reported the highest plunges in weekly rail traffic among all Class I railroad companies.

CSX’s weak rail traffic performance was mainly the result of a drastic fall in its intermodal volumes. The company’s intermodal units plunged 17.8% YoY to 46,940 containers and trailers from 57,079 units. Its container volumes declined 18.3% YoY to 44,797 units from 54,811 units, and its trailer traffic plunged 5.5% YoY to 2,143 units from 2,268 units.

CSX’s intermodal unit decline was the highest among all Class I railroad companies (IYT). Kansas City Southern (KSU), Canadian National Railway (CNI), BNSF Railway, and Norfolk Southern also reported double-digit plunges in their respective intermodal traffic.

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Carload traffic

CSX’s carload traffic fell 6.9% YoY to 15,442 railcars from 17,110 railcars in the same week of 2018. During the fifth week, all Class I railroad companies reported YoY declines in carload traffic except Canadian Pacific (CP), which registered a 2% YoY improvement. With a drop of 14% in carload traffic, Norfolk Southern remained the worst performer in Week 5.

CSX’s carload traffic excluding coal and coke, which accounted for 76% of its total carload traffic in Week 5, fell 6% YoY to 47,834 railcars from 50,868 railcars. Its coal and coke traffic declined 9.7% YoY to 15,442 units from 17,110 units in Week 5 of 2018.

The company reported volume declines across the majority of its commodity groups. CSX registered double-digit volume declines in coke, grain, mill, farm, metals, and chemical products. Nonmetallic minerals, metallic ores, and iron and steel scrap were the commodities that registered YoY growth in their volumes.

For the first five weeks of 2019, CSX reported cumulative volumes of 328,184 carloads, up 6.2% from the same period last year. However, its intermodal units fell 4.9% YoY to 241,887 containers and trailers. Its combined rail traffic in the first five weeks of 2019 inched up 1.2% YoY to 570,071 carloads and intermodal units compared to the previous year.

In the next article, we’ll take a look at Canadian National Railway’s rail traffic performance.

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