3rd Quarter Offered Mixed Rail Traffic Picture

Half of North America’s Class 1 railroads posted traffic gains in the third quarter of 2021 but the other half saw their traffic volume fall.

BNSF posted 4.1 percent traffic growth in the quarter, which ended Sept. 30, led by 7.1 percent growth in its carload traffic thanks to strong gains in coal and chemicals.

Canadian National on the other hand saw its traffic fall 1.7 percent overall with intermodal volume declining by 7.1 percent.

Canadian Pacific’s traffic volume was up nearly 1 percent with intermodal volume growing by 8.5 percent.

CSX posted a traffic gain of 1.8 percent while Norfolk Southern had a 1 percent overall traffic loss. NS carload volume rose 5.2 percent but its intermodal traffic fell 4.9 percent.

Union Pacific’s carload volume was up 5 percent but experienced a 7 percent decline in intermodal. Overall, UP’s traffic was down 1 percent.

All railroads reported seeing gains in coal traffic spurred by rising natural gas prices. The Class 1s all had plunges in automotive traffic due to automakers reducing production due to computer chip shortages.

Third quarter financial reports are due to be released this month with CN releasing its report on Oct. 19, CSX releasing its report on Oct. 20 and NS releasing its report on Oct. 27.

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