The Association of American Railroads (AAR), in reporting U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 30, 2018, as well as traffic for June 2018 and the year’s first half, noted that volume is keeping pace with a generally strong economy.
“Rail traffic in June was consistent with a healthy economy,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. “In June, 14 of the 20 commodity categories the AAR tracks each month saw carload gains—the third straight month in which at least 14 categories were up. That’s the longest such streak since late 2014. Meanwhile, record intermodal volume for June speaks to the high value proposition that rail customers associate with intermodal service. For now, things are looking good for the railroads and the economy despite the many threats, such as a potential trade war, that could bring change quickly.”
U.S. railroads originated 1,080,769 carloads in June 2018, up 2.0%, or 21,098 carloads, from June 2017. U.S. railroads also originated 1,159,973 containers and trailers in June 2018, up 6.3%, or 68,689 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in June 2018 were 2,240,742, up 4.2%, or 89,787 carloads and intermodal units from June 2017.
In June 2018, 14 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with June 2017. These included: petroleum & petroleum products, up 7,411 carloads or 19.7%; crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 7,276 carloads or 7.1%; and chemicals, up 4,608 carloads or 3.7%. Commodities that saw declines in June 2018 from June 2017 included: coal, down 9,396 carloads or 2.7%; nonmetallic minerals, down 3,552 carloads or 18.8%; and waste & nonferrous scrap, down 618 carloads or 3.8%.
Excluding coal, carloads were up 30,494 carloads, or 4.3%, in June 2018 from June 2017. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 25,979 carloads, or 4.2%.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first six months of 2018 was 6,747,414 carloads, up 1.3%, or 87,169 carloads, from the same period last year; and 7,153,557 intermodal units, up 6.0%, or 405,633 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 26 weeks of 2018 was 13,900,971 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.7% compared to last year.
For the week ending June 30, 2018, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 564,243 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.6% compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending June 30 were 270,916 carloads, up 0.7% compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 293,327 containers and trailers, up 8.5% compared to 2017.
Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included petroleum and petroleum products, up 2,494 carloads, to 11,354; chemicals, up 1,739 carloads, to 33,563; and metallic ores and metals, up 738 carloads, to 26,054. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 were coal, down 4,635 carloads, to 83,214; and grain, down 7 carloads, to 23,433.
North American rail volume for the week ending June 30, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 377,509 carloads, up 2.7% compared with the same week last year, and 380,866 intermodal units, up 8.8% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 758,375 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.7%. North American rail volume for the first 26 weeks of 2018 was 18,733,684 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.3% compared with 2017.
Canadian railroads reported 84,694 carloads for the week, up 7.1%, and 69,286 intermodal units, up 4.6% compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 26 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,840,282 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3.6%.
Mexican railroads reported 21,899 carloads for the week and 18,253 intermodal units. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 26 weeks of 2018 was 992,431 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers.