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Rail Traffic for September and the week ending September 29, 2018

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending September 29, 2018, as well as volumes for September 2018.

U.S. railroads originated 1,066,826 carloads in September 2018, up 2.6 percent, or 26,826 carloads, from September 2017. U.S. railroads also originated 1,127,385 containers and trailers in September 2018, up 6.2 percent, or 65,801 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in September 2018 were 2,194,211, up 4.4 percent, or 92,627 carloads and intermodal units from September 2017.

In September 2018, 14 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with September 2017. These included: petroleum & petroleum products, up 14,750 carloads or 41.5 percent; chemicals, up 5,145 carloads or 4.2 percent; and grain, up 5,001 carloads or 6.1 percent. Commodities that saw declines in September 2018 from September 2017 included: coal, down 5,562 carloads or 1.6 percent; crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 3,042 carloads or 3 percent; and motor vehicles & parts, down 877 carloads or 1.3 percent.

“Weakness in a few commodity categories notwithstanding, rail traffic in September was consistent with the economy we have today in which fundamentals like industrial output and consumer spending are solid,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. “Intermodal, the business line most closely related to consumer spending, was especially strong — the last two weeks of September were the top two weeks in history for U.S. intermodal. Tracking the economy and rail traffic require diligence to help identify turning points, but for now there is no indication that good economic times will end in the immediate future.”

Excluding coal, carloads were up 32,388 carloads, or 4.7 percent, in September 2018 from September 2017. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 27,387 carloads, or 4.5 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first nine months of 2018 was 10,248,559 carloads, up 2 percent, or 199,538 carloads, from the same period last year; and 10,832,004 intermodal units, up 6 percent, or 613,414 containers and trailers, from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 39 weeks of 2018 was 21,080,563 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4 percent compared to last year.
 

Week Ending September 29, 2018

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 571,922 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending September 29 were 272,306 carloads, up 0.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 299,616 containers and trailers, up 6.8 percent compared to 2017.

Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included petroleum and petroleum products, up 2,839 carloads, to 12,140; metallic ores and metals, up 1,854 carloads, to 25,794; and chemicals, up 1,406 carloads, to 33,047. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 included nonmetallic minerals, down 3,915 carloads, to 35,391; grain, down 1,759 carloads, to 21,870; and motor vehicles and parts, down 812 carloads, to 16,656.

North American rail volume for the week ending September 29, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 380,801 carloads, up 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 392,322 intermodal units, up 4.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 773,123 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 39 weeks of 2018 was 28,431,600 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.6 percent compared with 2017.

Canadian railroads reported 88,889 carloads for the week, up 2.7 percent, and 74,012 intermodal units, up 1.4 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 39 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,844,306 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent.

Mexican railroads reported 19,606 carloads for the week, down 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 18,694 intermodal units, down 13.7 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 39 weeks of 2018 was 1,506,731 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers.
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