Rail freight traffic relatively flat

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Gains in intermodal helped offset a downturn in carload traffic during the month of March 2015, the week ended March 28 and the year’s first quarter, the Association of American Railroads reported.

Carload traffic in March totaled 1,117,029 carloads, down 3.4% or 39,793 carloads from March 2014. U.S. railroads also originated 1,084,136 containers and trailers in March 2015, up 5.7% or 58,161 units from the same month last year. For March 2015, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,201,165, up 0.8% or 18,368 carloads and intermodal units over March 2014. The weekly average of 550,291 carloads and intermodal units was the most for March since 2007, prior to the start of the most recent recession, and 21.5% higher than the weekly average in March 2009.

In March 2015, eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw gains compared with March 2014. This included grain, up 10.9% or 8,896 carloads; metallic ores, up 19.1% or 3,377 carloads; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 1.8% or 1,481 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in March 2015 from the prior-year period included coal, down 6.9% or 31,205 carloads; primary metal products, down 16.2% or 6,756 carloads; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 7% or 4,170 carloads. (Excluding coal, carloads were down 1.2% or 8,588 carloads in March 2015 from March 2014 and when both coal and grain are excluded, U.S. carloads were down 2.8% or 17,484 carloads).

Total U.S. carload traffic for the year’s first quarter (January-March) was 3,367,082 carloads, up 0.3% or 10,345 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 3,018,598 units, up 0.1% or 2,435 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2014. For the first quarter of 2015, total rail traffic volume in the U.S. was 6,385,680 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2% or 12,780 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year.

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending March 28, 2015 was 563,280 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.7% compared with the same week last year. For the week there were 284,935 carloads, down 5.6% compared with the same week in 2014, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 278,345 containers and trailers, up 5% compared to 2014.

Two of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by the AAR posted increases compared with the same week in 2014: grain, up 3.5% to 22,776 carloads; and farm products, up 2.3% to 17,454 carloads. Commodity groups that posted a weekly decrease from the prior-year period were led by metallic ores and metals, down 12.6% to 21,195 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 10.9% to 13,788 carloads; and coal, down 9.1% to 106,484 carloads.

North American rail volume for the week ending March 28 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 384,692 carloads, down 3.9% compared with the same week last year, and 352,189 intermodal units, up 6.5% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 736,881 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.8%. First-quarter North American rail volume was 8,333,184 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.8% compared with 2014.

Canadian railroads reported 82,074 carloads for the week, up 0.9%, and 63,365 intermodal units, up 13.4% compared with the same week in 2014. For the first quarter, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,627,157 carloads, containers and trailers, up 8.4%. Mexican railroads reported 17,683 carloads for the week, up 4.3% compared with the same week last year, and 10,479 intermodal units, up 9.2%. Cumulative first-quarter volume on Mexican railroads was 320,347 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.5% from the same point last year.

Categories: Class I, Intermodal Tags: , ,