Posts Tagged ‘railroad freight traffic’

Railroad Carload Traffic up 7.3% in March

April 7, 2017

Carload traffic grew by 7.3 percent in March when compared with the same month in 2016, the Association of American Railroads reported.

U.S. railroads moved 1,283,489 carloads in March, up 87,183 carloads from March 2016.

The carriers originated 1,298,173 containers and trailers, a gain of 3.8 percent, or 47,180 units, from a year ago.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal in March were 2,581,662, up 5.5 percent or 134,363 carloads and intermodal units over March 2016.

Thirteen of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw gains led by coal, up 19 percent or 63,846 carloads; crushed stone, gravel, and sand, up 12.5 percent or 13,154 carloads, and grain, up 10.6 percent or 11,336 carloads.

Commodities that declined from March 2016 included motor vehicles and parts, down 5.3 percent or 4,999 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, off 8.1 percent or 4,382 carloads, and chemicals, down 1.3 percent or 2,113 carloads.

Excluding coal, carloads gained 2.7 percent year-to-year.

“Railroading is not for the faint of heart, as markets are continually changing and railroads have to adapt to changing circumstances,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray in a statement. “Despite recent increases, in absolute terms rail coal volumes are much lower than they were even a few years ago, and rail crude oil volumes are roughly half what they were a couple of years ago. On the other hand, this was the best March ever for carloads of crushed stone, sand, and gravel, and it was the best March for grain since 2008.”

G&W Traffic Up 27% in January

February 16, 2017

The acquisition of the Providence & Worcester Railroad last year has helped Genesee & Wyoming railroads post a 27 percent overall traffic increase in January 2017 when compared with the same month in 2016.

G&WThe P&W acquisition was completed last November. G&W railroads handled more than 138,500 railcars in January 2017, an increase of 11 percent over the 124,400 railcars it handled in 2016.

G&W also reported increased traffic on other railroads due to increased shipments of coal, coke, agricultural products and minerals and stone traffic.

Its best performing commodity in January was coal and coke with its railroads carrying more than 22,400 carloads of coal in January 2017, compared with 18,400 carloads in the same month in 2016.

R&N Posts 16% Carload Gain in 2016

February 3, 2017

Pennsylvania-based short line Reading & Northern posted a 16 percent increase in carload traffic for 2016, handling almost 20,000 carloads.

PennsylvaniaTourist operations accommodated more than 100,000 passengers, the second time in the railroad’s history that it has topped six figures.

In a statement, the R&N said that during 2016 it “had more employees, more track, more locomotives, more freight cars, more facilities and more customers than at any point in its history.”

R&N added 10 miles of new track and acquired the Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, with more than three miles of new track construction.

In maintenance of way efforts, R&N installed more than 15,000 ties, replaced more than 20,000 linear feet of rail and built a dozen new turnouts.

The locomotive fleet increased by 20 percent with the acquisition of six four-axle locomotives. The freight car fleet grew 16 percent to 1,179 cars, an increase of 162.

More than a dozen new customers have come on line, most with the Humboldt acquisition, and 21 new employees joined the railroad, bringing the staff to more than 200.

U.S. Rail Freight Traffic Declined During 2016, But December Traffic Figures Showed Increases

January 5, 2017

Although U.S. rail freight traffic fell in 2016 when compared with 2015, the Association of American Railroads is optimistic that based on late-year growth that the future looks a little brighter.

AARTotal rail traffic volume was 26,587,351 carloads and intermodal units, down 5 percent or 1,389,323 carloads and intermodal units from 2015.

AAR said that for the year U.S. carload traffic was 13,096,860 carloads, down 8.2 percent or 1,169,152 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 13,490,491 units, down 1.6 percent or 220,171 containers and trailers.

Describing 2016 as challenging for America’s freight railroads, AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray noted that it was the second consecutive year of declining traffic “ . . . due mainly to a weak manufacturing economy and turmoil in energy markets.”

Intermodal traffic failed to set a fourth straight annual record.

“That said, there are signs that the economy may be gradually returning to a period of growth,” Gray said in a statement.

Analysts can point to an uptick in traffic during December 2016 when compared with the same month in 2015.

Carload traffic totaled 973,642 carloads, up 2.8 percent or 26,147 while U.S. railroads originated 1,011,870 containers and trailers, up 11.2 percent or 102,215 units.

For December 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 1,985,512, up 6.9 percent or 128,362 carloads and intermodal units from December 2015.

Thirteen of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw carload gains compared with December 2015.

These included: coal, up 4.2 percent or 13,360 carloads; grain, up 10.5 percent or 8,663 carloads; and chemicals, up 3.9 percent or 4,599 carloads.

Commodities that fell included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 17.4 percent or 8,568 carloads; crushed stone, gravel and sand, down 4.1 percent or 2,889 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, down 5.9 percent or 1,265 carloads.

Excluding coal, carloads were up 2 percent or 12,787 carloads in December 2016 from December 2015.

Rail Traffic Rose in Early November

November 11, 2016

U.S. railroads saw an increase in traffic during the first week of November, the first increase in freight traffic in several months.

AARThe Association of American Railroads said the railroads moved more than 543,000 carloads and 20-foot equivalent units, about 0.7 percent more than what they moved during the same week in 2015.

That included 272,115 containers and trailers, or about 1.7 percent more than last year. Freight traffic is still down about 0.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

Four of the 10 major commodities groups posted an increase in volume during the week. That included grain, up about 22 percent; non-metallic ores, up around 3.8 percent; and motor vehicles and other automobile parts, up nearly 3 percent.

Petroleum products, which include crude oil, remain down more than 16 percent while miscellaneous carloads are down a little more than 10 percent. Metallic ores and metals moves are also down by almost 10 percent.

For the first 44 weeks of 2016, U.S. rail traffic is still down a little more than 6 percent.

There is Intermodal Business for Railroads to Pursue But They’ll Need to Be Smart to Get It

November 5, 2016

Railway Age magazine recently asked its experts to look into their crystal balls and predict the future of freight by rail in America.

train image2The consensus was that coal is not going to be the cash cow that it once was, crude oil might bounce back a little bit, automotive traffic will continue to cyclical and grain is profitable but seasonal.

The magazine’s experts said the railroads have done well in lowering their operating ratios through reducing costs and being more productive.

But trimming expenses will only take the industry so far and although the financial community is enthralled with the religion of cost cutting, it seldom is able to see beyond the next financial reporting period.

Comparing a railroad to a tree, the Railway Age analysis said that it may be that dead wood needs to be removed, but if a tree is to survive and thrive, it must grow.

So what will be the sources of this growth? Some analysts argue that it will be intermodal, including the type of short-haul business that railroads have traditionally ceded to trucks.

In the current intermodal market, some see short-haul business as having untapped potential if the industry keeps its pencils sharp and its costs low.

That means no $100 million terminals or expensive lifts. Trailers need to roll on and roll off as quickly as possible. It also means running short trains on precise schedules.

“In my humble opinion, short-haul intermodal (250 to 700 miles) represents the only opportunity in the near future for railroads to increase their traffic, said Steve Ditmeyer, who writes often for Railway Age. “And they only need to capture just a small fraction of the total short-haul truck traffic to experience a substantial traffic gain.”

Beyond intermodal growth, though, the railroad industry may need to learn to adapt to a challenging economy.

“My thesis beyond coal: We’re in a 2 percent-growth economy where there is less stuff moving than in a 3-4 percent economy,” said Railway Age Contributing Editor Roy Blanchard.

“Finished goods from corn pone to white goods are less in demand, so you need less raw material to meet what demand there is. Lower demand for finished goods equals fewer goods moving to market, and what goods are moving are moving by truckloads, not carloads, in amounts more fitting for smaller inventory loads. So, yes, it’s a freight recession, and the bloom is off the railroad renaissance.”

Blanchard said that pricing to what the traffic will bear has evolved into order-taking and pricing by computer model to maximize revenue and minimize cost.

Consultant Jim Blaze said the days are gone when rail intermodal growth will come at two to three times the rate of GDP growth.

Grain Traffic Bright Spot for U.S. Railroads

September 21, 2016

The Association of American Railroads said that grain traffic by rail this year has been surpassing carload numbers from 2015, with grain carloads up by more than 26 percent to 22,599 carloads.

AARThis equates to more than 250 90-car unit grain trains per week.

AAR said the first two weeks of September have yielded higher volumes of grain shipments and that during August grain traffic averaged about 25 percent higher than during the same month last year.

Grain is one of the few commodity groups in which the AAR has been posting substantial traffic increases. Coal and energy-related commodities continue to tumble.

Overall U.S. rail traffic is down more than 5 percent in 2016 when compared to 2015.

Rail Freight Traffic in August Fell 6.6%

September 8, 2016

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.

Freight Volume Fell 8.8% in July

August 5, 2016

Freight carload volume fell 8.8 percent in July 2016 when compared with the same month in 2015, the Association of American Railroad reported.

AARCarload traffic in July totaled 1,025,367 carloads, a decline of 99,530 carloads from July 2015. AAR said U.S. railroads originated 1,002,401 containers and trailers in July 2016, down 6.9 percent or 74,482 units from the same month last year.

During July 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,027,768, down 7.9 percent or 174,012 carloads and intermodal units from July 2015.

AAR’s July 2016 report found that four of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with July 2015.

Posting increases were grain, up 15.3 percent or 12,641 carloads; waste and nonferrous scrap, up 25.9 percent or 3,400 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, up 12.9 percent or 2,880 carloads.

Commodities that saw declines in July 2016 included: coal, down 17.5 percent or 70,479 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 22 percent or 11,926 carloads; and crushed stone, gravel and sand, down 11.6 percent or 11,765 carloads.

Taking coal out of the mix, AAR said July 2016 carloads were down 4 percent or 29,051 carloads from July 2015.

“Rail traffic continues to reflect the uncertainty rail customers face in a challenging economic environment,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray.

Gray said that rail intermodal remains below 2015 levels while carloads showed a small improvement in coal and a bit of an improvement in grain.

“For the present, railroads are focused on providing safe and efficient service to their customers, while watching to see if the increase in consumer spending in the second quarter will lead to additional Gross Domestic Product growth in the second half of the year,” Gray said.

AAR Says Freight Traffic Fell In June

July 7, 2016

Freight traffic on U.S. railroads fell in June, the Association of American Railroads reported.

Carload traffic for the month was 1,245,025, a decrease of 7 percent (93,687) from June 2015.

AARAAR said railroads originated 1,295,240 containers and trailers in June 2016, down 5.6 percent or 76,920 units from June of last year.

The combined carload and intermodal originations were 2,540,265, a drop of 6.3 percent or 170,607 carloads and intermodal units from June 2015.

“Rail traffic remains relatively weak, with slightly better coal volumes in June offset by continued weakness in intermodal caused in part by an inventory overhang and global economic uncertainty,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. “Because current economic indicators are presenting a mixed picture, it’s not clear if railroads should be pessimistic or cautiously optimistic about the near- to medium term.”

Just six of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR posted gains when compared with June 2015.

Grain was up 13.8 percent or 12,982 carloads, miscellaneous carloads rose 17 percent or 4,569 carloads, and waste and nonferrous scrap increased by 16.4 percent or 2,907 carloads.

Among the commodities that fell were some familiar ones. Coal was down 16.4 percent or 73,194 carloads while petroleum and petroleum products fell 22.2 percent or 15,415 carloads.

Also declining was crushed stone, gravel and sand, down 6.6 percent or 7,727 carloads.

If coal is excluded from the June figures, carloads were down 2.3 percent or 20,493 carloads in June 2016 compared with June 2015.

For the first 26 weeks of 2016, U.S. carload traffic was 6,295,216 carloads, down 12.3 percent or 886,579 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 6,713,003 units, down 2.1 percent or 147,056 containers and trailers when compared to June 2015.