The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 29, 2017, as well as volumes for April 2017. U.S. railroads originated 1,023,300 carloads in April 2017, up 8.4 percent, or 78,949 carloads, over April 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,052,001 containers and trailers in April 2017, up 2.3 percent, or 23,448 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in April 2017 were 2,075,301, up 5.2 percent or 102,397 carloads and intermodal units over April 2016.
In April 2017, 10 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with April 2016. These included: coal, up 26.7 percent or 65,158 carloads; grain, up 18.7 percent or 14,612 carloads; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 12.9 percent or 11,777 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in April 2017 from April 2016 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 13.1 percent or 5,929 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 9.1 percent or 6,777 carloads; and metallic ores, down 8.4 percent or 2,083 carloads.
"U.S. grain car loadings during April 2017 were the highest since 2011, with rail grain deliveries to ports since the first of the year running 19 percent ahead of 2016," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economic John T. Gray. "These agricultural exports improve our balance of trade and strengthen the farm economy.
"Sales of motor vehicles fell for the second straight month in April as financing companies have reportedly hit the brakes, tightening lending standards following the satisfaction of the pent-up demand coming out of the 2009 recession. As a result, rail shipments of motor vehicles and parts fell again in April. We are hopeful that the upcoming summer buying season will clear dealer inventories and drive up demand for railroads to deliver new vehicles."
Excluding coal, carloads were up 2 percent, or 13,791 carloads, in April 2017 over April 2016.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first four months of 2017 was 4,347,402 carloads, up 6.4 percent, or 259,614 carloads, from the same period last year; and 4,439,681 intermodal units, up 1.6 percent, or 71,425 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 17 weeks of 2017 was 8,787,083 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.9 percent compared to last year.
Week ending April 29, 2017
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 527,830 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending April 29 were 258,476 carloads, up 6 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 269,354 containers and trailers, up 4.2 percent compared to 2016.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They included grain, up 18.3 percent to 23,784 carloads; coal, up 17.7 percent to 75,662 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 15.2 percent to 40,660 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included petroleum and petroleum products, down 12.9 percent to 9,624 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 12.1 percent to 16,677 carloads; and farm products excl. grain, and food, down 3.9 percent to 15,603 carloads.
North American rail volume for the week ending April 29, 2017, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 358,834 carloads, up 8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 346,706 intermodal units, up 4.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 705,540 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 17 weeks of 2017 was 11,637,645 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with 2016.
Canadian railroads reported 83,214 carloads for the week, up 16 percent, and 66,264 intermodal units, up 9.8 percent compared with the same week in 2016. For the first 17 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,403,552 carloads, containers and trailers, up 9.8 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 17,144 carloads for the week, up 3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,088 intermodal units, down 9.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 17 weeks of 2017 was 447,010 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.5 percent from the same point last year.