AAR reports October 2017 as strongest month for intermodal rail freight in history
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has recently released statistics for U.S. rail traffic for the week ending 28 October 2017, as well as volumes throughout October 2017, which shows it was the best month for intermodal rail traffic in history.
U.S. railroads originated 1,065,777 carloads in October 2017, down 0.1 per cent, or 1,220 carloads, from October 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,144,157 containers and trailers in October 2017, up 6.4 per cent, or 68,328 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in October 2017 were 2,209,934, up 3.1 per cent, or 67,108 carloads and intermodal units from October 2016.
In October 2017, 12 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with October 2016. These included: crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 15,873 carloads or 16.5 per cent; chemicals, up 7,390 carloads or 6.4 per cent; and metallic ores, up 4,076 carloads or 20.6 per cent. Commodities that saw declines in October 2017 from October 2016 included: coal, down 17,764 carloads or 4.9 per cent; grain, down 12,528 carloads or 11.8 per cent; and motor vehicles and parts, down 5,190 carloads or 7 per cent.
“Year-over-year U.S. rail carloads in October were held back by declines in carloads of grain and coal,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “However, carloads of these commodities tend to rise or fall for reasons that have little to do with the state of the economy. Excluding them, carloads were up 4.8 per cent in October, their best monthly gain in almost three years. As such, rail carloads, as well as record intermodal volume in October, support the view that the economy is doing somewhat better now than it has been in the past two years.”
Excluding coal, carloads were up 16,544 carloads, or 2.3 per cent, in October 2017 from October 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 29,072 carloads, or 4.8 per cent.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 10 months of 2017 was 11,172,437 carloads, up 3.4 per cent, or 368,102 carloads, from the same period last year; and 11,576,709 intermodal units, up 3.7 per cent, or 417,112 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 43 weeks of 2017 was 22,749,146 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.6 per cent compared to last year.
Week ending 28 October 2017
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 546,582 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.2 per cent compared with the same week in 2016.
Total carloads for the week ending 28 October 2017 were 263,064 carloads, down 3.2 per cent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 283,518 containers and trailers, up 3.7 per cent compared to 2016.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included non-metallic minerals, up 3,661 carloads, to 40,659; metallic ores and metals, up 3,360 carloads, to 23,244; and chemicals, up 482 carloads, to 30,028. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included coal, down 9,850 carloads, to 83,597; grain, down 2,626 carloads, to 22,589; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 1,362 carloads, to 16,509.
North American rail volume for the week ending 28 October 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totalled 362,922 carloads, down 1.9 per cent compared with the same week last year, and 367,703 intermodal units, up 6.2 per cent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 730,625 carloads and intermodal units. North American rail volume for the first 43 weeks of 2017 was 30,181,627 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 per cent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 82,640 carloads for the week, up 0.9 per cent, and 70,452 intermodal units, up 15.8 per cent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 43 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,252,399 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.1 per cent.
Mexican railroads reported 17,218 carloads for the week, up 5 per cent compared with the same week last year, and 13,733 intermodal units, up 14.9 per cent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 43 weeks of 2017 was 1,180,082 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.1 per cent from the same point last year.