Friday, July 06, 2018

AAR: Rail Carloads Up 2.0% YoY, Intermodal Up 6.3% YoY

by Bill McBride on 7/06/2018 05:27:00 PM

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

All things considered, it could be a lot worse for rail traffic. U.S. railroads originated 1,159,973 containers and trailers in June 2018, up 6.3% over June 2017. Average weekly intermodal volume in June 2018 was 289,993 units, easily the most for any month in history. U.S. railroads also originated 1,080,769 carloads in June 2018, up 2.0%, or 21,098 carloads, over June 2017.

Not all is well, though. For example, weekly average U.S. grain carloads in June 2018 were the most for June since 1995, but near-term rail grain movements, especially soybeans, are at risk because of the ongoing trade fights. The more tit-for-tat escalation there is, the more railroads could suffer.
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.
Total originated U.S. rail carloads in June 2018 were 1,080,769, up 2.0%, or 21,098 carloads, over June 2017. That’s the fourth straight year-over-year monthly increase, something that hasn’t happened since last June. Total carloads averaged 270,192 in June 2018, the most for June since 2015 and the most for any month since October 2015.
Rail TrafficThe second graph is for intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers):
U.S. railroads originated 1,159,973 intermodal containers and trailers in June 2018, up 6.3%, or 68,689 units, over June 2017. Average weekly intermodal volume in June 2018 was 289,993 units, easily the most ever. (The old record was 279,853 in February 2018.) In fact, the four weeks comprising June 2018 were first, third, fourth, and fifth on the all-time weekly U.S. intermodal list.