NSC Had the Worst Traffic Performance among Peers in Week 5

Carload traffic plunged drastically

Norfolk Southern’s (NSC) rail freight traffic plunged 11.9% YoY (year-over-year) in the fifth week of 2019, the most among all Class I railroad companies.

The company hauled 134,554 railcars during Week 5, significantly down from the 152,808 units it carried in the same week of last year. In the first five weeks of 2019, the company’s total rail traffic increased 1.9% YoY to 710,897 railcars.

NSC Had the Worst Traffic Performance among Peers in Week 5

NSC’s dismal rail traffic performance in Week 5 was mainly the result of a 14% decline in its carloads. During the week, the Eastern US railroad company moved 58,105 railcars compared to the 67,529 it moved in Week 5 of 2018. During the first five weeks of 2019, the company moved 313,174 railcars, 1.5% more than it carried in the same timeframe last year.

Commodities excluding coal and coke, which accounted for 74% of Norfolk Southern’s Week 5 carload traffic, fell 10.1% YoY to 42,767 units from 47,589 units. Its coal and coke volumes plunged 23.1% YoY to 15,338 units from 19,940 units. The railroad company’s volumes declined across all commodity groups except metallic ores, farm products excluding grains, and waste and scrap materials.

Norfolk Southern’s carload traffic decline was the highest among Class I railroad companies (XTN), followed by BNSF Railway’s 10.7% fall and Canadian National’s (CNI) 10.2% plunge. In Week 5, Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) was the only railroad company that registered YoY growth in carload traffic volumes.

Intermodal volumes

Norfolk Southern’s intermodal traffic shrank 10.4% YoY in Week 5 to 76,449 containers and trailers from 85,279 units. The company’s container traffic contracted 9.6% YoY to 69,585 units from 76,991 units. Moreover, it registered a 17.2% YoY fall in its trailer volumes to 6,864 units from 8,288 units.

During Week 5, all Class I railroad companies recorded YoY declines in their intermodal units. CSX (CSX) was the worst performer with a 17.8% YoY plunge in its intermodal units.

In the first five weeks of 2019, Norfolk Southern’s intermodal traffic increased 2.2% YoY to 397,723 units.

Next, we’ll discuss CSX’s rail traffic.