Posts Tagged ‘U.S. railroad freight traffic’

U.S. Rail Freight Traffic up 5.2% in April

May 5, 2017

U.S. rail freight grew in April, leading some analysts to ask if the rail freight traffic slump is over.

The railroads originated 1,023,300 carloads in April 2017, up 8.4 percent, or 78,949 carloads, over April 2016.

On the intermodal side, railroads originated 1,052,001 containers and trailers in April 2017, up 2.3 percent, or 23,448 units over 2016.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in April 2017 were 2,075,301, up 5.2 percent or 102,397 carloads and intermodal units over April 2016.

“U.S. grain car loadings during April 2017 were the highest since 2011, with rail grain deliveries to ports since the first of the year running 19 percent ahead of 2016,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. “These agricultural exports improve our balance of trade and strengthen the farm economy.”

However, motor vehicle sales fell in April for the second straight month. Gray attributed that to financing companies tightening credit “following the satisfaction of the pent-up demand coming out of the 2009 recession.”

That led to a drop in rail shipments of motor vehicles and parts in April.

“We are hopeful that the upcoming summer buying season will clear dealer inventories and drive up demand for railroads to deliver new vehicles,” Gray said.

In April 2017, 10 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with April 2016.

These included: coal, up 26.7 percent or 65,158 carloads; grain, up 18.7 percent or 14,612 carloads; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 12.9 percent or 11,777 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in April 2017 from April 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 13.1 percent or 5,929 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 9.1 percent or 6,777 carloads; and metallic ores, down 8.4 percent or 2,083 carloads.

Excluding coal, carloads were up 2 percent, or 13,791 carloads, in April 2017, compared with April 2016.

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.

Coal Helps Drive January Freight Increase

February 3, 2017

Coal traffic helped drive an increase in U.S. railroad freight during January, the Association of American Railroads said on Thursday.

AARFor the month, carload traffic was 996,573 carloads, up 2.9 percent or 28,341 carloads from January 2016.

But intermodal traffic was down with railroads originating 1,021,068 containers and trailers, down 1.8 percent or 18,553 units from January 2016.

For January 2017, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,017,641, up 0.5 percent or 9,788 carloads and intermodal units from January 2016.

Nine of the 20 carload commodities tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with January 2016.

Coal was up 11.9 percent or 35,798 carloads; grain was up 5.2 percent or 4,570 carloads; and waste and nonferrous scrap was up 20.9 percent or 2,546 carloads.

Falling in January were petroleum and petroleum products, down 19.5 percent or 9,751 carloads; chemicals, down 3.6 percent or 4,456 carloads; and stone, clay and glass products, down 10.9 percent or 2,904 carloads.

“January rail traffic paints a mixed picture, with some commodities exceeding expectations, while others remained flat or down,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. “For most of last year, coal carloads were down sharply, but for the past couple of months, including January, they’ve been the major force behind rail carload gains. We can probably expect continued uncertainty in energy markets going forward, but we’re hopeful that improving macro-economic fundamentals will drive improvement in rail volumes for many commodity categories this year.”

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.

U.S. Rail Carloadings Down 5.1% in October

November 4, 2016

U.S. rail carloadings fell 5.1 percent in October 2016 to 1,066,994 carloads, a decline of 57,800 carloads from October 2015.

AARAs has been the case all year, falling coal traffic had a disproportionate effect on freight traffic.

Take away coal and the carloads  in October 2016 were down 3.8 percent or 28,179 carloads, from October 2015.

Four of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month posted gains compared with October 2015.

Grain was up 6 percent or 6,014 carloads; waste and nonferrous scrap, up 9.9 percent or 1,349 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, up 2.2 percent or 535 carloads.

Declines for the period were posted by coal, down 7.6 percent or 29,621 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 24 percent or 12,849 carloads; and chemicals, down 3.1 percent or 3,660 carloads.

U.S. railroads originated 1,075,820 containers and trailers in October 2016, down 1.2 percent or 13,096 units in October 2015.

The combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,142,814, down 3.2 percent or 70,896 carloads and intermodal units from October 2015.

In a statement, AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray said railroads continue to be hindered by an adverse macroeconomic environment.

“Grain is doing well and autos are hanging on, but many other commodity categories that depend on a vibrant industrial sector—things like steel, petroleum products, and crushed stone—are not doing as well as railroads would like,” Gray said. “Hopefully, that changes in the months ahead.”

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 43 weeks of 2016 was 10,804,210 carloads, down 10 percent or 1,200,705 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 11,159,432 units, down 3 percent or 346,715 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2015.

For the first 10 months of 2016, total U.S. rail traffic volume was 21,963,642 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.6 percent or 1,547,420 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year.

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.

Rail Crude Oil Shipments Down 45%

August 4, 2016

Crude oil shipments by rail fell 45 percent in the first five months of 2016 when compared with the same period in 2015.

The U.S. Department of Energy said crude oil shipments averaged 443,000 barrels per day this year.

train image2About half of the decline was due to fewer shipments of crude oil from the Midwest to the East Coast.

The DOE said crude oil shipments by rail have been in decline since summer 2015 due to a narrowing of price differences between domestic and imported crude oil, the opening of new crude oil pipelines, and declining production in the Midwest and Gulf Coast on-shore regions.

In a report, the department said the economics of crude-by-rail transportation depend on the relationship between the prices of domestic and international crude oils.

Domestic crude oil priced in the Midwest and western Texas are no longer heavily discounted relative to imported crude oils priced in the North Sea.

DOE said the narrower the spread between domestic and imported crude oils, the more likely that coastal refiners will choose imported crude oil rather than domestic supplies shipped by rail.

Although it suffered the largest fall, the market for Midwest crude oil to the East Coast remains the largest in the U.S., accounting for 176,000 barrels per day or 45 percent of the total crude oil moved by rail within the United States in May 2016.

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.