AAR: 2017 intermodal record

Written by Railway Age Staff
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Total U.S. rail traffic was 397,032 carloads and intermodal units for the week ending Dec. 30, down 6.8% compared with the same week in 2016, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Traffic totaled 194,680 carloads, down 9.8%, while intermodal volume was 202,352 containers and trailers, off by 3.7%.

None of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase on-year. Decliners included coal, 9.5%; grain, 19.6%, and chemicals, 8.1%.

North American rail volume for the week on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 268,140 carloads, down 9.4%, and 259,430 intermodal units, down 1.6%. Total combined traffic was 527,570 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.7%. North American rail volume for all of 2017 was 36,488,013 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.8% from the previous year.

Canadian railroads reported 60,664 carloads for the week, down 11.4%, and 49,109 intermodal units, up 6.6%. Full-year volume of 7,570,747 carloads, containers and trailers was up 10.6%.

Mexican railroads reported 12,796 carloads for the week, up 10.2%, and 7,969 intermodal units, up 5.9%. Cumulative volume for 2017 was 1,427,306 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2% on-year.

For December, U.S. railroads originated 998,168 carloads, up 2.5%, from December, 2016, and 1,065,965 containers and trailers, up 5.3%. Combined carload and intermodal originations were 2,064,133, up 4%.

“Rail traffic finished 2017 on a positive note,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “In December, total carloads were up for the first time in six months, and 14 of the 20 carload categories we track saw year-over-year gains – the most for any month in almost three years. Meanwhile, intermodal volume was up for the 11th straight month and set a new annual record, breaking the previous mark set in 2015.”

In December 14 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw carload gains from the same month a year ago. compared with December 2016. These included crushed stone, sand & gravel, 23.1%; metallic ores, 35.2%, and chemicals, 3.5%. Commodities that saw declines included grain, 6.1%; motor vehicles & parts, 4.1%, and nonmetallic minerals, 8.9%.

“Rail traffic is a useful gauge of the state of the economy, and it shows that the economy’s momentum strengthened in the fourth quarter of 2017,” Gray said. “Coal, grain, and petroleum products are not nearly as GDP-dependent as most other categories of rail traffic. If you exclude them, U.S. rail carloads were up 5.2% in the fourth quarter of 2017, their biggest quarterly percentage gain in more than three years. Railroads are well-positioned to provide the safe, efficient and cost-effective service our economy will need if it is to continue to grow in the months and years ahead.” Excluding coal, carloads increased 3.6% in December 2017 from December 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 28,832 carloads, or 5.2%.

Total U.S. traffic for 2017 was 13,478,126 carloads, up 2.9% from the same period in 2016, and 14,011,834 intermodal units, up 3.9%.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the full year of 2017 was 27,489,960 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.4%.

Categories: Class I, Intermodal, Short Lines & Regionals, Switching & Terminal Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,