Coal on the rise: AAR

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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In reporting U.S. rail traffic volumes for the week ending Feb. 25, 2017 and the month of February 2017, the Association of American Railroads noted that coal rose 14% and 19.2%, respectively.

“The 19.2% increase in coal carloads in February 2017 was the highest percentage gain for coal since sometime before 1988, when our current record series began,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. ”While it’s an impressive gain, February 2017 was, unfortunately, also the second worst February in absolute terms for coal since sometime before 1988. It’s all too representative of the challenges railroads are facing as their markets change. However, these same market changes are offering new opportunities. Over the past 15 years, the industry has worked hard to create a solid foundation to exploit these opportunities.”

Carload traffic in February totaled 1,044,040 carloads, up 6.7% or 65,141 carloads from February 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,068,439 containers and trailers in February 2017, up 1.8% or 19,350 units from the same month last year. For February 2017, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,112,479, up 4.2% or 84,491 carloads and intermodal units from February 2016.

In February 2017, 11 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with February 2016. These included: coal, up 19.2% or 57,589 carloads; crushed stone, gravel, and sand, up 13.1% or 10,091 carloads; and primary metal products, up 6.8% or 2,357 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in February 2017 from February 2016 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 12.4% or 5,543 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 4.8% or 3,746; carloads and metallic ores, down 19.1% or 2,793 carloads.

Excluding coal, carloads were up 1.1% or 7,552 carloads in February 2017 from February 2016.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 8 weeks of 2017 was 2,040,613 carloads, up 4.8% from the same point last year; and 2,089,507 intermodal units, up 0.04% from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 8 weeks of 2017 was 4,130,120 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.3% compared to last year.

Week Ending Feb. 25, 2017

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending February 25, 2017 was 521,451 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.1% compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending February 25 were 256,756 carloads, up 3.5% compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 264,695 containers and trailers, down 3% compared to 2016.

Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They were coal, up 14% to 84,822 carloads; nonmetallic minerals, up 12.1% to 33,908 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, up 0.2% to 21,272 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.5% to 9,438 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 5.8% to 18,634 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, down 4.3% to 8,921 carloads.

North American rail volume for the week ending February 25, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 351,728 carloads, up 4.6% compared with the same week last year, and 339,947 intermodal units, down 1.7% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 691,675 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.4%. North American rail volume for the first 8 weeks of 2017 was 5,446,850 carloads and intermodal units, up 3% compared with 2016.

Canadian railroads reported 78,200 carloads for the week, up 10.3%, and 64,428 intermodal units, up 5.2% compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 8 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,113,463 carloads, containers and trailers, up 7.5%.

Mexican railroads reported 16,772 carloads for the week, down 2.9% compared with the same week last year, and 10,824 intermodal units, down 6.4%. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 8 weeks of 2017 was 203,267 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 6.9% from the same point last year.

Crude Oil Update

The AAR also reported U.S. Class I railroads originated 43,293 carloads of crude oil in the fourth quarter of 2016, down 5,685 carloads or 11.6% from the third quarter of 2016 and down 41,632 carloads or 49% from the fourth quarter of 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Class I, Intermodal Tags: ,