Canadian National outpaces industry in 2017 traffic growth

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CNCapacity
A Canadian National intermodal train passes a hopper train paused at a siding near Theresa, Wis., in November 2017.
TRAINS Drone: Steve Sweeney
Traffic2017increase
Source: Association of American Railroads; TRAINS
Canadian National regained its mojo in 2017 and was once again the fastest-growing Class I railroad, according to a review of weekly carload reports and data from the Association of American Railroads.

CN’s 10.4-percent gain in carload and intermodal traffic in 2017 was more than double the industry average. Its intermodal traffic was up 16 percent, while merchandise business was up 9 percent.

BNSF Railway’s volume was up 5.4 percent last year, largely due to 6-percent growth in both intermodal and coal.

Kansas City Southern was just behind BNSF, with its traffic up 5.2 percent. Its big growth driver was carload traffic on KCS in the U.S., which was up nearly 9 percent.

Norfolk Southern rode intermodal growth into fourth place, with its traffic up 4.9 percent in 2017.

Canadian Pacific saw its volume rise 4.4 percent on strong growth in potash and frac sand traffic.

Union Pacific posted a 2 percent increase in traffic, thanks largely to coal and frac sand.

CSX Transportation, which suffered through a summer of service problems amid broad operational changes under then-CEO E. Hunter Harrison, brought up the rear. CSX traffic was up 0.2 percent. Its carload traffic was down 1.4 percent, while intermodal was up 2.2 percent.

Overall North American rail traffic was up 4.8 percent in 2017, according to the AAR. The year was a rebound from 2016, when overall traffic was down.
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