Rail Freight Traffic in August Fell 6.6%

The August freight carload traffic report is out and U.S. railroads saw a 6.6 percent decline in traffic when compared with August 2015.

But if coal is subtracted from the mix, the decline was just 1 percent.

AARThe Association of American Railroads said that carload traffic in August totaled 1,347,989 carloads, down 6.6 percent or 95,341 carloads from a year ago.

AAR said eight of its 20 carload commodities posted gains, including grain, up 24.7 percent or 23,857 carloads; waste and nonferrous scrap, up 25.4 percent or 4,182 carloads; and chemicals, up 1.1 percent or 1,699 carloads.

Commodities that had declines were coal, down 16.1 percent or 86,638 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 25.1 percent or 17,650 carloads; and crushed stone, gravel and sand, down 6.9 percent or 8,913 carloads.

U.S. railroads originated 1,327,274 containers and trailers, which was down 4.8 percent or 66,889 units from August 2015.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,675,263 down 5.7 percent or 162,230 carloads and intermodal units from August 2015.

“While August showed improvements in some categories, the big story in terms of rail traffic last month was the continuing surge in carloads of grain,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. “Railroads, along with barges and trucks, are a critical part of the grain logistical chain. The fact that this chain generally functions smoothly is a testament to the tremendous efforts that transportation providers, including railroads, put forth in support of their grain-related customers.”

In looking at the year-to-date statistics, U.S. carload traffic was 8,668,572 carloads, down 11.1 percent or 1,081,450 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 9,042,678 units, down 3.1 percent or 288,427 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2015.

For the first eight months of 2016, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 17,711,250 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.2 percent or 1,369,877 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year.

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