US carload, intermodal traffic up for May 2018

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 2, 2018, as well as volumes for May 2018.

U.S. railroads originated 1,319,420 carloads in May 2018, up 3.2 percent, or 41,078 carloads, from May 2017. U.S. railroads also originated 1,398,203 containers and trailers in May 2018, up 6.6 percent, or 86,010 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in May 2018 were 2,717,623, up 4.9 percent, or 127,088 carloads and intermodal units from May 2017.

In May 2018, 15 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with May 2017. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 16,811 carloads or 13.7 percent; chemicals, up 9,368 carloads or 6.1 percent; and coal, up 6,707 carloads or 1.7 percent. Commodities that saw declines in May 2018 from May 2017 included: nonmetallic minerals, down 4,187 carloads or 17 percent; metallic ores, down 2,254 carloads or 6.6 percent; and all other carloads, down 2,076 carloads or 6.9 percent.

“In May, U.S. rail carloads were higher in 15 of the 20 carload commodity categories the AAR tracks, including nearly all of the major ones,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. “In addition, intermodal volume in May was the second highest for any month in history. Right now, the economy is clicking, and railroads are both beneficiaries and enablers of that. One potential cloud on the horizon, though, involves trade. Freight railroads are essential to the flow of goods and rely on sensible trade policy. We’re hopeful that federal policymakers will recognize that an unnecessary trade war would do far more harm than good.”

Excluding coal, carloads were up 34,371 carloads, or 3.9 percent, in May 2018 from May 2017. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 31,198 carloads, or 4.1 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first five months of 2018 was 5,666,645 carloads, up 1.2 percent, or 66,071 carloads, from the same period last year; and 5,993,584 intermodal units, up 6 percent, or 336,944 containers and trailers, from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 22 weeks of 2018 was 11,660,229 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to last year.

Week Ending June 2, 2018

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 509,740 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent compared with the same week last year, which also included the Memorial Day holiday.

Total carloads for the week ending June 2 were 252,162 carloads, up 0.2 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 257,578 containers and trailers, up 6.3 percent compared to 2017.

Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 1,690 carloads, to 36,410; petroleum and petroleum products, up 1,629 carloads, to 10,810; and chemicals, up 1,392 carloads, to 31,129. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 were coal, down 6,380 carloads, to 76,242; and grain, down 332 carloads, to 22,537.

North American rail volume for the week ending June 2, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 352,936 carloads, up 1.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 339,482 intermodal units, up 3.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 692,418 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.3 percent. North American rail volume for the first 22 weeks of 2018 was 15,720,523 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.2 percent compared with 2017.

Canadian railroads reported 79,929 carloads for the week, up 6.4 percent, and 65,817 intermodal units, down 2.2 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 22 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,227,394 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3.4 percent.

Mexican railroads reported 20,845 carloads for the week and 16,087 intermodal units. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 22 weeks of 2018 was 832,900 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers.

— From an Association of American Railroads press release.
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