Vehicle shipments lead new carload report

Written by Stuart Chirls, Senior Editor
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Photo: Union Pacific

Intermodal shipments and motor vehicle volumes regained some of their luster among U.S. Class 1 railroads in the latest weekly carload data.

Rail traffic for the week ending April 14 was 534,198 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3% compared with the same week in 2017, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Volume for the week was 258,123 carloads, up 1.6%, while U.S. intermodal volume was 276,075 containers and trailers, up 6.9% from the same week a year ago.

Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by AAR gained year-on-year, led by motor vehicles and parts, 16.1%; metallic ores and metals, 9.6%, and nonmetallic minerals, 3.9%.

Domestic production of cars and trucks rose 2.7% in March, and up to 12 million units annual rate, the highest since December, 2016, according to the Federal Reserve.

Coal, the lone weaker commodity, fell 7.6%.

For the first 15 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,816,220 carloads, up 0.2%, and 4,035,463 intermodal units, up 5.4%. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 15 weeks of 2018 was 7,851,683 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.8% on-year.

North American rail volume for the week on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,625 carloads, up 2% compared with the same week in 2017, and 360,909 intermodal units, up 7.2%. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 724,534 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5%. North American rail volume for the first 15 weeks was 10,588,773 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.6%.

Canadian railroads reported 84,648 carloads for the week, up 0.9%, and 67,335 intermodal units, up 7.7%. For the first 15 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative traffic of 2,168,076 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3.1%.

Mexican railroads saw 20,854 carloads for the week and 17,499 intermodal units, although no year-on-year comparisons were available. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 15 weeks of 2018 was 569,014 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers.

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