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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. rail traffic much improved, but still down in April, AAR says


U.S. rail traffic continued to swoon in April, but fared better than in March. U.S. railroads originated 1,041,544 carloads, down 0.9 percent, and 1,056,146 intermodal loads, down 3.9 percent compared with April 2018 volumes, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Combined traffic totaling 2,097,690 units fell 2.4 percent. Only six of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR posted gains, including petroleum and petroleum products (29.5 percent), metallic ores (5 percent) and coal (1.8 percent). Decliners included crushed stone, sand and gravel (10.1 percent), motor vehicles and parts (5.4 percent), and grain (4.7 percent).
"Rail traffic in April was significantly improved compared with March, in part because railroads affected by severe flooding in the Midwest were able to return their operations more toward normal," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John Gray in a press release. "It appears that some of the economic uncertainty that was prevalent earlier in the first quarter has dissipated, although concerns about trade issues may still be having an impact on rail volumes."
Through 2019's first four months, U.S. roads logged 8,769,756 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.9 percent year over year. Canadian railroads' cumulative volume rose 2.4 percent to 2,523,702 units and Mexican roads' total volume dropped 5.8 percent to 610,898 units.

For the week ending April 27, U.S. railroads registered 533,190 total units, down 3.3 percent compared with the same 2018 period. Canadian roads' carloads climbed 5.4 percent to 88,748 units and Mexican roads' carloads decreased 4.7 percent to 20,443 units.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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