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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: Uncertainty hurt rail traffic in November


Rail traffic continued to struggle in November, with U.S. railroads reporting 1,975,345 carloads and intermodal units, a 7.4 percent decrease compared with November 2018's levels, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

U.S. railroads originated 955,579 carloads last month, down 7.5 percent, and 1,019,766 containers and trailers, down 7.4 percent versus last year's figures.

Three of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR each month logged gains compared with November 2018. They were: stone, clay and glass products, up 1,163 carloads or 4.1 percent; all other carloads, up 659 carloads or 2.7 percent; and primary forest products, up 143 carloads or 3.4 percent.

Commodities that posted decreases during the month included coal, down 49,419 carloads or 14.5 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, down 6,920 carloads or 8.4 percent; and primary metal products, down 5,447 carloads or 15.1 percent.

"Rail traffic continues to struggle because U.S. manufacturing is soft, trade disputes and the uncertainty they entail are ongoing, and economic growth abroad isn’t what it could be,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a press release. "That said, we’re confident that rail volumes will begin to grow again as the manufacturing portion of the economy finds firmer footing.”

Excluding coal, carloads declined 27,747 carloads, or 4 percent, last month. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 26,887 carloads, or 4.5 percent.

For the first 48 weeks of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018:
• U.S. railroads reported combined rail volume of 24,785,938 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.7 percent;
• Canadian railroads reported 7,248,142 carloads, containers and trailers, down 0.3 percent;
• Mexican railroads reported 1,812,675 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.7 percent; and
• North American railroads reported a combined 33,846,755 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.6 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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