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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S., Canadian rail traffic up, Mexican rail traffic down in Week 5


Total U.S. rail traffic surged 7.3 percent to 541,474 carloads and intermodal units for the week ending Feb. 4 compared with volumes during the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Total carloads jumped 11.7 percent to 269,994 units, while intermodal volume rose 3.3 percent to 271,480 containers and trailers.

Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups that AAR tracks on a weekly basis posted increases compared with the same week in 2016. They included coal, up 25.7 percent to 92,222 carloads; grain, up 15.7 percent to 25,741 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, up 12.7 percent to 10,032 carloads.

Commodity groups that logged decreases compared with the same week last year were petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.8 percent to 10,088 carloads; forest products, down 4.3 percent to 10,045 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 2.8 percent to 18,681 carloads.

Canadian railroads also posted traffic gains for the week ending Feb. 4. The number of carloads soared 14.6 percent to 80,535 units, while intermodal volume increased 6.3 percent to 65,563 containers and trailers compared with a year ago.

Mexican railroads reported a different story for the week, however. Carload traffic plummeted 21 percent to 11,988 units and intermodal volume fell 9 percent to 9,006 containers and trailers compared with traffic in the same week in 2016.

For the first five weeks of 2017, U.S. railroads logged a combined volume of 2,559,115 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 1.9 percent compared with the same period last year. Total carloads for the five-week period climbed 4.7 percent to 1,266,567 units compared with last year, while total intermodal units slipped 0.8 percent to 1,292,548.

Canadian railroads' cumulative volume for the first five weeks of 2017 increased 6.9 percent to 690,905 carloads, containers and trailers. Mexican railroads' cumulative volume declined 9.7 percent to 121,619 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers compared with the same period in 2016.