The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for February 2016.
Carload traffic in February totaled 979,042 carloads, down 10.1 percent or 110,132 from February 2015. U.S. railroads also originated 1,049,126 containers and trailers in February 2016, up 12.9 percent or 119,778 units from the same month last year. Please note, in February 2015, intermodal volumes were severely affected by a labor dispute at West Coast ports. For February 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,028,168, up 0.5 percent or 9,646 carloads and intermodal units from February 2015.
In February 2016, nine of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with February 2015. These included: motor vehicles and parts, up 19.4 percent or 12,573 carloads; miscellaneous carloads, up 30.6 percent or 5,345 carloads; and waste and nonferrous scrap, up 15.6 percent or 1,781 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in February 2016 from February 2015 included: coal, down 27.3 percent or 112,620 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.8 percent or 11,720 carloads; and metallic ores, down 25.3 percent or 4,944 carloads.
Excluding coal, carloads were up 0.4 percent or 2,488 carloads from February 2015. "The economy is still giving off a lot of mixed signals, and rail traffic is too. Coal carloads remain very troubling, intermodal is doing well, and the other rail traffic categories are somewhere in between," said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "After Saudi announcements on energy pricing late last week it is painfully evident that it will take a while for the shakeout in that sector to play itself out. Until that happens, and until it becomes clear that the disruptions abroad aren't spreading into the domestic economy, rail traffic will remain in an uncertain environment."
Week Ending February 27, 2016 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 27, 2016 was 521,300 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 27 were 248,281 carloads, down 7.1 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 273,019 containers and trailers, up 13 percent compared to 2015. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included miscellaneous carloads, up 28.3 percent to 9,323 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 11.7 percent to 19,792 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 6.8 percent to 30,261 carloads.
Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 were coal, down 25.2 percent to 74,552 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.9 percent to 11,168 carloads; and forest products, down 1.1 percent to 10,794 carloads.
For the first 8 weeks of 2016, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,947,084 carloads, down 13.5 percent from the same point last year; and 2,088,747 intermodal units, up 8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 8 weeks of 2016 was 4,035,831 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 3.6 percent compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 27, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 336,230 carloads, down 6.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 345,873 intermodal units, up 11.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 682,103 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8 percent. North American rail volume for the first 8 weeks of 2016 was 5,289,143 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.3 percent compared with 2015.
Canadian railroads reported 70,782 carloads for the week, down 8.2 percent, and 61,320 intermodal units, up 8.8 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 8 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,035,327 carloads, containers and trailers, down 3.5 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 17,167 carloads for the week, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,534 intermodal units, up 1.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 8 weeks of 2016 was 217,985 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2 percent from the same point last year.