The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for January 2017.
Carload traffic in January totaled 996,573 carloads, up 2.9 percent or 28,341 carloads from January 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,021,068 containers and trailers in January 2017, down 1.8 percent or 18,553 units from the same month last year. For January 2017, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,017,641, up 0.5 percent or 9,788 carloads and intermodal units from January 2016.
In January 2017, 9 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with January 2016. These included: coal, up 11.9 percent or 35,798 carloads; grain, up 5.2 percent or 4,570 carloads; and waste and nonferrous scrap, up 20.9 percent or 2,546 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in January 2017 from January 2016 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 19.5 percent or 9,751 carloads; chemicals, down 3.6 percent or 4,456 carloads; and stone, clay and glass products, down 10.9 percent or 2,904 carloads.
Excluding coal, carloads were up down 1.1 percent or 7,457 carloads in January 2017 from January 2016.
"January rail traffic paints a mixed picture, with some commodities exceeding expectations, while others remained flat or down," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "For most of last year, coal carloads were down sharply, but for the past couple of months, including January, they've been the major force behind rail carload gains. We can probably expect continued uncertainty in energy markets going forward, but we're hopeful that improving macro-economic fundamentals will drive improvement in rail volumes for many commodity categories this year."
Week Ending January 28, 2017
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending January 28, 2017 was 529,696 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.3 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending January 28 were 259,708 carloads, up 4.3 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 269,988 containers and trailers, up 2.4 percent compared to 2016.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included coal, up 12.8 percent to 87,208 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 7.7 percent to 31,955 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, up 7.0 percent to 21,227 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 12.6 percent to 10,167 carloads; forest products, down 4.2 percent to 10,149 carloads; and chemicals, down 3.9 percent to 30,734 carloads.
North American rail volume for the week ending January 28, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 356,206 carloads, up 5.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 345,019 intermodal units, up 2.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 701,225 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.2 percent. North American rail volume for the first 4 weeks of 2017 was 2,663,073 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 79,900 carloads for the week, up 14.0 percent, and 64,152 intermodal units, up 3.6 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 4 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 544,807 carloads, containers and trailers, up 6.0 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 16,598 carloads for the week, down 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,879 intermodal units, up 2.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 4 weeks of 2017 was 100,625 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 8.2 percent from the same point last year.