Weak carload traffic
Norfolk Southern’s (NSC) rail freight traffic fell 3.4% YoY (year-over-year) in week 7. The company hauled 147,531 railcars during week 7—down significantly from 152,779 units hauled in week 7 of 2018.
Norfolk Southern’s dismal rail traffic performance in week 7 was mainly due to a 7.6% decline in its carloads. During the week, the company moved 62,661 railcars—compared to 67,837 railcars moved in week 7 of 2018.
Commodities, excluding coal and coke, which accounted for 73% of Norfolk Southern’s carload traffic in week 7, fell 3.5% YoY to 45,927 units from 47,616 units. The company’s coal and coke volumes fell 17.2% YoY to 16,734 units from 20,221 units. The company registered a massive volume decline across metallic ores, metals, motor vehicles and equipment, and petroleum products. However, chemicals, grain, and non-metallic minerals were the few commodity groups that registered volume growth.
Norfolk Southern’s carload traffic had the second-highest decline among Class I railroad companies (XTN). Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) was the worst performer during week 7. Canadian Pacific Railway’s rail traffic volumes fell 8%. Canadian National Railway (CNI) was the top volume gainer with a rise of 8% in its rail traffic volumes.
Norfolk Southern’s intermodal traffic fell 0.1% YoY in week 7 to 84,870 containers and trailers from 84,942 units. The company’s container traffic fell 0.5% YoY to 76,840 units from 77,215 units. However, Norfolk Southern registered a 3.9% YoY increase in its trailer volumes to 8,030 units from 7,727 units.
During week 7, five of the seven Class I railroad companies recorded YoY declines in their intermodal units. Kansas City Southern (KSU) was the worst performer with a 13.2% YoY decline in its intermodal units.
Norfolk Southern’s cumulative carload volume fell 0.3% to 439,719 railcars in the first seven weeks of 2019. However, the company’s intermodal units rose 2.5% YoY to 568,066 containers and trailers. The company’s combined rail traffic in the first seven weeks of 2019 increased 1.3% YoY to ~1.01 million carloads and intermodal units compared to the previous year.
Next, we’ll discuss Union Pacific’s rail traffic.