May Rail Traffic up 6.4% AAR Says

Rail freight traffic continued to rise in May with U.S. railroads posting a 6.4 percent gain in carloads and intermodal units, the Association of American Railroads said.

Traffic during the month was 2,625,492 carloads and intermodal. The gain was over freight traffic in May 2016.

AAR said that the railroads originated 1,286,075 carloads in May, up 8.4 percent over May 2016 Intermodal container and trailer volume rose 4.6 percent to 1,339,417 units during May compared with a year ago.

“All things considered, May was a good month for rail traffic,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a news release. “Thirteen of the 20 commodity categories we track had higher carloads in May 2017 than in May 2016, including the four biggest categories — coal, chemicals, crushed stone and sand, and grain.”

Gray said that excluding coal, carloads increased 4.1 percent — the biggest monthly increase in more than two years. He said that May 2017 was “the best intermodal month of the year.

Eleven of the the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month posted gains. These included coal, up 19.6 percent or 64,059 carloads; grain, up 24.5 percent or 22,963 carloads; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 15.3 percent or 17,416 carloads.

Commodities that saw declines included petroleum and petroleum products, down 16.5 percent or 9,365 carloads; primary forest products, down 12.1 percent or 742 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 3.8 percent or 3,419 carload.

Excluding coal, carloads climbed 4.1 percent, or 35,231 carloads, in May 2017 over May 2016.

For the first five months of 2017, U.S. rail traffic has risen 3.9 percent to 8,787,083 carloads and intermodal units compared with the same period last year.


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