The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported weekly U.S. traffic, as well as volumes for January 2016.
Carload traffic in January totaled 968,042 carloads, down 16.6 percent or 192,747 from January 2015. U.S. railroads also originated 1,039,621 containers and trailers in January 2016, up 3.4 percent or 34,523 units from the same month last year. For January 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,007,663 down 7.3 percent or 158,224 carloads and intermodal units from January 2015.
In January 2016, four of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with January 2015. This included: miscellaneous carloads, up 45.2 percent or 7,409 carloads; chemicals, up 2.1 percent or 2,615 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, up 3.9 percent or 2,435 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in January 2016 from January 2015 included: coal, down 33.3 percent or 150,658 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 19.4 percent or 12,037 carloads;
"Intermodal was solid in January, but carload volumes weren't what railroads were hoping for," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "By all accounts, rail service right now is excellent, but volume just isn't there. At some point, the problems currently plaguing the energy and manufacturing sectors - low oil prices, a strong dollar, uncertainties in emerging markets - will sort themselves out. When that happens, railroads will be positioned to provide safe, reliable service." Week Ending January 30, 2016
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 30, 2016 was 512,746 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.5 percent compared with the same week last year. For the week, there were 248,961 carloads, down 16.6 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 263,785 containers and trailers, up 5.5 percent compared to 2015. Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They were miscellaneous carloads, up 45.9 percent to 10,019 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 5.8 percent to 18,556 carloads; and chemicals, up 2.8 percent to 31,981 carloads.Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 included coal, down 33.8 percent to 77,416 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 24.9 percent to 11,626 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, down 19.1 percent to 19,826 carloads.
North American rail volume for the week ending Jan. 30, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 335,717 carloads, down 15 percent compared with the same week last year, and 336,908 intermodal units, up 4.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 672,625 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 4 weeks of 2016 was 2,630,780 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.8 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 69,901 carloads for the week, down 12.4 percent, and 61,982 intermodal units, up 0.8 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 4 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 513,716 carloads, containers and trailers, down 6.5 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,855 carloads for the week, up 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,141 intermodal units, down 3.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 4 weeks of 2016 was 109,401 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.3 percent from the same point last year.