US Rail Traffic Volumes Fell for the 20th Straight Week


Jun. 17 2019, Updated 1:22 p.m. ET

US rail traffic fell

Overall, US railroad companies’ traffic volume fell for the 20th consecutive week in Week 23, which ended on June 8. On June 12, the Association of American Railroads reported that the companies’ rail traffic fell 8.5% in Week 23. The companies hauled 513,099 units during Week 23—compared to the 560,764 units in Week 23 of 2018.

Lower volumes across the carload and intermodal units hurt US railroad companies’ rail traffic performance in Week 23. The carload traffic fell 9.1% YoY (year-over-year) to 246,758 railcars in Week 23. US railroads registered significant traffic declines across non-metallic minerals, coal, and motor vehicles and parts. The companies recorded higher volumes across petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, and miscellaneous products.

US railroad companies’ intermodal traffic fell 8% YoY to 266,341 containers and trailers.

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Canadian and Mexican railcar traffic

Canadian railroad companies’ overall traffic grew 1.3% YoY to 153,984 units. The companies’ carload traffic increased 1.5% YoY to 84,023 railcars in Week 23. The intermodal traffic rose 1% YoY to 69,961 containers and trailers.

Mexican railroad companies’ traffic fell 3% YoY in Week 23 to 39,581 carloads and intermodal units. The intermodal traffic fell 2.4% YoY to 21,740 units. Mexican railroad companies’ carload traffic fell 3.7% YoY to 17,841 railcars.

Companies’ performances

Five of the seven Class I railroad companies saw YoY declines in their rail traffic volumes in Week 23. Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and Canadian National Railway (CNI) were the only volume gainers. They recorded rail traffic growth of 2.2% and 1.2%, respectively.

Norfolk Southern (NSC) saw the biggest drop of 9.7%. Union Pacific (UNP), BNSF Railway, Kansas City Southern (KSU), and CSX (CSX) reported traffic declines of 8.7%, 8.4%, 4.8%, and 4%, respectively.

Investors could gain exposure in the railroad industry by investing in the iShares Transportation Average ETF (IYT). IYT has allocated 52.5% of its funds in the space. So far, IYT has gained 12.7% in 2019. IYT has outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has returned 11.8%.


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