The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending October 28, 2017, as well as volumes for October 2017, which was the best month for intermodal rail traffic in history.
U.S. railroads originated 1,065,777 carloads in October 2017, down 0.1 percent, or 1,220 carloads, from October 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,144,157 containers and trailers in October 2017, up 6.4 percent, or 68,328 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in October 2017 were 2,209,934, up 3.1 percent, or 67,108 carloads and intermodal units from October 2016.
In October 2017, 12 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with October 2016. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 15,873 carloads or 16.5 percent; chemicals, up 7,390 carloads or 6.4 percent; and metallic ores, up 4,076 carloads or 20.6 percent. Commodities that saw declines in October 2017 from October 2016 included: coal, down 17,764 carloads or 4.9 percent; grain, down 12,528 carloads or 11.8 percent; and motor vehicles & parts, down 5,190 carloads or 7 percent.
“Year-over-year U.S. rail carloads in October were held back by declines in carloads of grain and coal,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “However, carloads of these commodities tend to rise or fall for reasons that have little to do with the state of the economy. Excluding them, carloads were up 4.8% in October, their best monthly gain in almost three years. As such, rail carloads, as well as record intermodal volume in October, support the view that the economy is doing somewhat better now than it has been in the past two years.”
Excluding coal, carloads were up 16,544 carloads, or 2.3 percent, in October 2017 from October 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 29,072 carloads, or 4.8 percent.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 10 months of 2017 was 11,172,437 carloads, up 3.4 percent, or 368,102 carloads, from the same period last year; and 11,576,709 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent, or 417,112 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 43 weeks of 2017 was 22,749,146 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to last year.
Week ending October 28, 2017
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 546,582 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending October 28 were 263,064 carloads, down 3.2 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 283,518 containers and trailers, up 3.7 percent compared to 2016.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 3,661 carloads, to 40,659; metallic ores and metals, up 3,360 carloads, to 23,244; and chemicals, up 482 carloads, to 30,028. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included coal, down 9,850 carloads, to 83,597; grain, down 2,626 carloads, to 22,589; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 1,362 carloads, to 16,509.
North American rail volume for the week ending October 28, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 362,922 carloads, down 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 367,703 intermodal units, up 6.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 730,625 carloads and intermodal units, up percent. North American rail volume for the first 43 weeks of 2017 was 30,181,627 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 82,640 carloads for the week, up 0.9 percent, and 70,452 intermodal units, up 15.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 43 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,252,399 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.1 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 17,218 carloads for the week, up 5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 13,733 intermodal units, up 14.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 43 weeks of 2017 was 1,180,082 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.1 percent from the same point last year.