The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 3, 2018, as well as volumes for February 2018.
U.S. railroads originated 1,028,141 carloads in February 2018, down 0.3 percent, or 2,753 carloads, from February 2017. U.S. railroads also originated 1,104,001 containers and trailers in February 2018, up 6.9 percent, or 70,970 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in February 2018 were 2,132,142, up 3.3 percent, or 68,217 carloads and intermodal units from February 2017.
In February 2018, nine of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with February 2017. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 6,329 carloads or 7.5 percent; chemicals, up 4,286 carloads or 3.4 percent; and metallic ores, up 2,510 carloads or 19.4 percent. Commodities that saw declines in February 2018 from February 2017 included: coal, down 5,801 carloads or 1.7 percent;
“Rail carloads in February, like in many other recent months, were held back by declines in coal, grain, and motor vehicles,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Declines in those categories are unfortunate, but they don’t reflect general weakness in the economy. Excluding them, carloads were up a reasonably solid 2.1% in February. Moreover, February 2018 was the best month ever for carloads of chemicals and the second-best month ever for intermodal. While these are good signs for the broader economy going forward, they are potentially compromised by the uncertainty created by recent developments in trade policy.”
Excluding coal, carloads were up 3,048 carloads, or 0.4 percent, in February 2018 from February 2017. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 7,760 carloads, or 1.3 percent.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first two months of 2018 was 2,245,546 carloads, down 2 percent, or 45,184 carloads, from the same period last year; and 2,414,142 intermodal units, up 5 percent, or 115,153 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first nine weeks of 2018 was 4,659,688 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 1.5 percent compared to last year.
Week ending March 3, 2018
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 544,194 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.8 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending March 3 were 264,659 carloads, up 1.3 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 279,535 containers and trailers, up 10.4 percent compared to 2017.
Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included chemicals, up 1,941 carloads, to 33,983; miscellaneous carloads, up 1,142 carloads, to 11,766; and nonmetallic minerals, up 899 carloads, to 34,680. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included grain, down 797 carloads, to 23,198; forest products, down 481 carloads, to 9,813; and motor vehicles and parts, down 239 carloads, to 18,368.
North American rail volume for the week ending March 3, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 366,104 carloads, up 0.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 368,540 intermodal units, up 10.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 734,644 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first nine weeks of 2018 was 6,263,524 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.2 percent compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 79,469 carloads for the week, down 1.2 percent, and 70,595 intermodal units, up 16.4 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first nine weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,261,814 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.7 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 21,976 carloads for the week, up 4.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 18,410 intermodal units, down 2.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first nine weeks of 2018 was 342,022 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.9 percent from the same point last year.