Strong intermodal traffic growth

Union Pacific’s (UNP) rail traffic grew 2% YoY (year-over-year) to 166,944 railcars in the sixth week of 2019. Strong growth in intermodal volumes mainly drove the company’s overall rail traffic.

UNP’s intermodal traffic grew 9% YoY to 77,199 containers and trailers from 70,821 units. Its container volumes rose YoY to 73,276 from 68,007, and its trailer volumes jumped 39.4% YoY to 3,623 from 2,814.

Impressive Intermodal Growth Drove Union Pacific’s Total Traffic

Union Pacific’s intermodal traffic gain was the highest among Class I railroad companies (IYT) followed by Norfolk Southern’s (NSC) 6.7% volume growth. On the other hand, Kansas City Southern (KSU) was the worst performer, registering a YoY decline of 19.1% in its intermodal volumes.

Carload traffic declined

Union Pacific’s carload traffic fell 3.3% YoY to 89,745 railcars from 92,795 railcars in Week 6 of 2018. Commodities excluding coal and coke, which accounted for 75% of Union Pacific’s Week 6 carload traffic, fell 2.6% YoY to 67,611 units from 69,400 units. Moreover, its coal and coke volumes plunged 5.4% YoY to 22,134 units from 23,395 units.

Union Pacific’s volumes declined across the majority of commodity groups. The company recorded a double-digit volume decline across the metallic, food, forest, and lumber commodity products. Grain, nonmetallic minerals, petroleum, and iron and steel scrap commodity products registered volume declines in the week.

Among all Class I railroad companies, Kansas City Southern recorded the highest carload traffic gain of 11.4%, while Canadian Pacific (CP) was the worst performer, reporting a 12.4% fall.

In the first six weeks of 2019, Union Pacific reported cumulative volumes of 540,272 carloads, up 0.2% from the same period in 2018. Its intermodal units surged 9% YoY to 451,422 containers and trailers. Its combined rail traffic in the first six weeks of 2019 grew 4% YoY to 991,694 carloads and intermodal units compared to the previous year.

Next, we’ll take a look at Canadian National Railway’s rail traffic performance in Week 6.

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