Posts Tagged ‘freight traffic’

Rail Freight Traffic Fell 2.4% in April

May 3, 2019

Rail freight traffic fell in April although the Association of American Railroads noted that it still did better than it did in March.

During April, the railroads originated 1,041,544 carloads, down 0.9 percent, and 1,056,146 intermodal loads, down 3.9 percent compared with April 2018.

Combined traffic was 2,097,690 units, a decline of 2.4 percent.

Six of the AAR’s 20 carload commodity categories showed gains. These included petroleum and petroleum products (29.5 percent), metallic ores (5 percent) and coal (1.8 percent).

Posting traffic declines were 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 statement.

“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,” he said.

U.S. Rail Freight Traffic Fell in March

April 4, 2019

Rail freight traffic on U.S. railroads was down in March nearly across the board.

The Association of American Railroads reported that the carriers originated 957,144 carloads in March 2019, down 8.9 percent, or 93,616 carloads, from March 2018.

Intermodal traffic was 1,065,790 containers and trailers in March 2019, a drop of 1.5 percent, or 16,387 units compared with March 2018.

Combined carload and intermodal originations in March 2019 were 2,022,934, down 5.2 percent, or 110,003 carloads and intermodal units from March 2018.
Four of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month posted gains compared with March 2018.

These included: petroleum and petroleum products, up 8,290 carloads or 21.1 percent; motor vehicles and parts, up 1,215 carloads or 1.8 percent; and non-metallic minerals, up 927 carloads or 6.3 percent.

Declining commodities included coal, down 64,804 carloads or 19.1 percent; grain, down 11,837 carloads or 12.6 percent; and crushed stone, sand, and gravel, down 8,732 carloads or 9.1 percent.

Excluding coal, carloads were down 28,812 carloads, or 4.1 percent, in March 2019 from March 2018. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 16,975 carloads, or 2.8 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first three months of 2019 was 3,195,609 carloads, down 3.1 percent, or 100,800 carloads, from the same period last year; and 3,476,457 intermodal units, down 0.6 percent, or 19,892 containers and trailers, from last year.

Railroads Need Reliable Service to Win Back Shippers

March 14, 2019

CSX CEO James Foote recently told an investor’s conference that railroads will only regain traffic lost to trucks if they can provide dependable service just like truckers do.

James Foote

Foote said that the typical railroad carload shipper sends about 60 percent of its business by rail and the rest by truck.

“The reason they ship it in a truck is because they don’t trust the railroad to get it there on time,” Foote said.
Those shippers would rather send their freight by rail because of its lower cost, but transit time by rail can vary between five and nine days.

A rail car might arrive at its destination on time just 50 percent of the time. Foote said no shippers are going to send all of their freight by rail with that kind of performance, he says.

CSX and other railroads have adopted the precision scheduled railroading operating model in an effort to improve efficiency and reliability, which Foote said will enable railroads to reap a higher share of the billions of dollars of revenue from freight that’s moving by highway but could be on the rails.

That will only come with more reliable service. “We need to get that to 90 percent or so,” Foote said. “So there’s a tremendous amount of potential there for improvement.”

Foote said CSX has regained some merchandise traffic lost to truck, but it is not business that it lost during a period of service disruptions in 2017 as the carrier struggled to implement the PSR operating model.

AAR Says Freight Traffic Fell in February

March 7, 2019

U.S. freight railroad traffic fell in February, the Association of American Railroads reported this week.

AAR said the railroads originated 999,978 carloads in February 2019, down 2.7 percent, or 28,238 carloads, from February 2018.

The carriers during February originated 1,094,499 containers and trailers, a dip of 0.9 percent, or 9,513 units when compared with February 2018.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations last month were 2,094,477, a decline of 1.8 percent, or 37,751 carloads and intermodal units from February 2018.

AAR said eight of the 20 carload commodity categories it tracks posted gains compared with February 2018.

These included: petroleum and petroleum products, up 8,269 carloads or 20.5 percent; primary metal products, up 1,378 carloads or 3.7 percent; and pulp and paper products, up 1,165 carloads or 5.5 percent.

Commodities that posted declines included: coal, down 22,945 carloads or 6.7 percent; crushed stone, sand, and gravel, down 6,190 carloads or 6.9 percent; and grain mill products, down 2,262 carloads or 5.9 percent.

“It’s impossible to know how much of the sluggishness in rail volumes in February was due to weather and how much was due to weakness in the overall economy, but it seems likely that weather played a role,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray in a statement.

“Every winter causes problems for railroads, but this past February on average was noticeably colder than last year in much of the country and that may have been enough to pull rail volumes below last year. That said, trade-related uncertainty hasn’t helped, nor has the economic uncertainty engendered by perceived softness in parts of the economy.”

AAR said that excluding coal, carloads were down 5,293 carloads, or 0.8 percent, in February 2019 from February 2018. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 5,458 carloads, or 0.9 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first two months of 2019 was 2,238,465 carloads, down 0.3 percent, or 7,184 carloads, from the same period last year; and 2,410,667 intermodal units, down 0.1 percent, or 3,505 containers and trailers, from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first nine weeks of 2019 was 4,649,132 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 0.2 percent compared to last year.

Winter Weather Depressed Freight Traffic

February 23, 2019

A blast of severe winter was instrumental in depressing North American rail freight traffic executives of three Class 1 railroads said this week at an investor conference.

The Association of American Railroads said that in mid February Class 1 railroads were handling 3 percent less traffic compared with the same period in 2018.

However, executives with Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Norfolk Southern and CSX said during the conference that they expect traffic to recover and grow this year.

The worst of the weather hit during February and CSX CEO James Foote said that his railroad has seen strong volumes until it hit.

“It’s been a tough winter this year, much tougher than last year,” Foote said. “It’s just been consistent across the northern half of our network.”

NS Chief Financial Officer Cindy Earhart said traffic sagged during the worst of the weather but overall has been on the rise this year.

AAR: January Rail Freight Traffic Shows Strong Economy

February 7, 2019

Although freight traffic on U.S. railroads was mixed in January, the Association of American Railroads said the results “don’t reflect weakness in the economy.”

AAR said that gains in intermodal, chemicals and petroleum-related shipments offset losses in coal, grain and motor vehicles.

U.S. railroads originated 1,238,487 carloads in January 2019, up 1.7 percent, or 21,054 carloads, from January 2018.

The carriers originated 1,316,168 containers and trailers in January 2019, up 0.5 percent, or 6,008 units, from the same month last year.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in January 2019 were 2,554,655, up 1.1 percent, or 27,062 carloads and intermodal units from January 2018.

In January 2019, 11 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with January 2018.

These included petroleum and petroleum products, up 12,791 carloads or 23.9 percent; chemicals, up 3,841 carloads or 2.5 percent; and primary metal products, up 3,103 carloads or 7.2 percent.

Commodities that saw declines in January 2019 from January 2018 included crushed stone, sand and gravel, down 2,118 carloads or 2.2 percent; coke, down 2,046 carloads or 9.9 percent; and motor vehicles & parts, down 2,015 carloads or 2.7 percent.

“January rail traffic painted a mixed picture, with healthy gains for some key commodities, while others continued to be a drag on overall carload numbers,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. “Intermodal volumes, chemicals and petroleum and petroleum products all continued their momentum from 2018. On the other hand, motor vehicles and parts were down in January—and overall carloads were held back by declines in coal and grain, but these fluctuations don’t reflect weakness in the economy.”

Excluding coal, carloads were up 21,864 carloads, or 2.7 percent, in January 2019 from January 2018. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 22,984 carloads, or 3.3 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first month of 2019 was 1,238,487 carloads, up 1.7 percent, or 21,054 carloads, from the same period last year; and 1,316,168 intermodal units, up 0.5 percent, or 6,008 containers and trailers, from last year.