Friday, May 05, 2017

AAR: Rail Traffic increased in April

by Bill McBride on 5/05/2017 04:10:00 PM

From the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Rail Time Indicators. Graphs and excerpts reprinted with permission.

U.S. rail carloads were 1,023,300 for the month, up 8.4% (78,949 carloads) over April 2016, thanks once again mainly to coal — coal carloads were up 26.7% (65,158 carloads) over last year’s. ... U.S. rail intermodal traffic in April 2017 was 1,052,001 containers and trailers, up 2.3% (23,448 units) over April 2016 — but only the third highest April on record (slightly below 2014 and 2015).
Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image.

This graph from the Rail Time Indicators report shows U.S. average weekly rail carloads (NSA).  Dark blue is 2017.

Rail carloads have been weak over the last decade due to the decline in coal shipments.
U.S. railroads originated 1,023,300 total carloads in April 2017, up 8.4%, or 78,949 carloads, over April 2016. It’s the sixth straight year-over-year carload increase. Total originated carloads averaged 255,825 per week in April 2017. The good news is that this is up from a weekly average of 236,088 in April of last year. The bad news is that last year was the only year since sometime prior to 1988, when our data begin, in which average weekly carloads were lower than they were this April.
Rail TrafficThe second graph is for intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers):
U.S. rail intermodal volume in April 2017 was 1,052,001 containers and trailers, up 2.3% (23,448 units) over April 2016. In the first four months of 2017, U.S. intermodal volume was 4,439,681 units, up 1.6%, or 71,425 units, from 2016.