Friday, May 04, 2018

AAR: Rail Carloads Up 3.3% YoY, Best April Ever for Intermodal

by Bill McBride on 5/04/2018 04:13:00 PM

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

April was a very good month for U.S. rail traffic. Fifteen of the 20 carload commodity categories the AAR tracks saw higher carloads in April 2018 than in April 2017 — 15 is the most since January 2015. Total carloads were up 3.3% (34,020 carloads) in April ...U.S. intermodal volume in April 2018 was up 6.8%, or 69,630 units, over April 2017. April was the 15th straight year-over-year monthly increase for intermodal, dating back to February 2017. Average weekly intermodal volume in April 2018 was 274,750 units, the third highest for any month on record. April is the seventh straight month in which U.S. intermodal volume was the highest ever for that month.
Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image.

This graph from the Rail Time Indicators report shows U.S. average weekly rail carloads (NSA).  Light blue is 2018.

Rail carloads have been weak over the last decade due to the decline in coal shipments.
Originated U.S. rail carloads in April 2018 were up 34,020, or 3.3%, over April 2017 to 1.05 million. Total carloads have risen in three of the past five months. Weekly average carloads in April 2018 were 262,757, the most for April since 2015.
Rail TrafficThe second graph is for intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers):
U.S. railroads originated 1,099,000 containers and trailers in April 2018, up 69,630 units, or 6.8%, over April 2017. It’s the 15th straight year-over-year monthly increase for intermodal, dating back to February 2017. Average weekly intermodal volume in April 2018 was 274,750 units, the third highest for any month on record (behind only February 2018 and October 2017). April is the seventh straight month in which U.S. intermodal volume was the highest ever for that month.