Friday, October 05, 2018

AAR: September Rail Carloads Up 2.6% YoY, Intermodal Up 6.2% YoY

by Bill McBride on 10/05/2018 05:33:00 PM

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

Weakness in a few commodity categories notwithstanding, rail traffic in September 2018 was consistent with the economy we have today in which fundamentals like industrial output and consumer spending are solid. Total U.S. carloads were up 2.6%, or 26,826 carloads, in September 2018 over September 2017, their seventh straight year-over-year increase.

Intermodal volume in September was up 6.2%, their 20th straight monthly increase. The last two weeks of September 2018 were the two highest-volume U.S. intermodal weeks in history.
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.
U.S. railroads originated 1,066,826 carloads in September 2018, up 2.6%, or 26,826 carloads, over September 2017 and the seventh straight year-over-year monthly increase for total carloads. Carloads averaged 266,707 per week in September 2018, the most for September since 2015.
Rail TrafficThe second graph is for intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers):
September 2018 was another good month for intermodal, with total container and trailer originations totaling 1,127,385 — up 6.2%, or 65,801 units, over September 2017. Average weekly intermodal volume in September 2018 was 281,846 units, easily an all-time record for September.
2018 will be another record year for intermodal traffic.