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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. rail traffic down 7.9 percent in July


U.S. railroad traffic in July fell 7.9 percent to 2,027,768, carloads and intermodal units, compared with traffic volume in July 2015, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced this week.

Total carloads in the month declined 8.8 percent to 1,025,367 units, compared with the same period last year. Railroads also transported 1,002,401 containers and trailers last month, down 6.9 percent compared with a year ago.

Four of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR posted increases during the month. They included grain, up 15.3 percent or 12,641 carloads; waste and nonferrous scrap, up 25.9 percent or 3,400 carloads; and miscellaneous carloads, up 12.9 percent or 2,880 carloads.

Carload commodity categories that logged decreases included coal, down 17.5 percent or 70,479 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 22 percent or 11,926 carloads; and crushed stone, gravel and sand, down 11.6 percent or 11,765 carloads.

Excluding coal, carloads were down 4 percent in July versus last year.

During the first 30 weeks of 2016, U.S. carload traffic volume dropped 11.9 percent to 7,320,583 units, while the number of intermodal containers and trailers slipped 2.8 percent to 7,715,404 units.

For the first seven months of 2016, total U.S. rail traffic volume clocked in at 15,035,987 carloads and intermodal units, a 7.4 percent decline from the same point last year.

"Rail traffic continues to reflect the uncertainty rail customers face in a challenging economic environment," said John Gray, AAR senior vice president of policy and economics.

Gray noted that intermodal traffic remained off from 2015's record traffic level, while carloads showed a small improvement in coal and a bit of improvement in grain.

"For the present, railroads are focused on providing safe and efficient service to their customers, while watching to see if the increase in consumer spending in the second quarter will lead to additional gross domestic product growth in the second half of the year," said Gray.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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