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AAR announces rail traffic for July and week ending July 29, 2017

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending July 29, 2017, as well as volumes for July 2017.

U.S. railroads originated 1,019,239 carloads in July 2017, down 0.6 percent, or 6,079 carloads, from July 2016. U.S. railroads also originated 1,058,354 containers and trailers in July 2017, up 5.6 percent, or 55,997 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in July 2017 were 2,077,593, up 2.5 percent, or 49,918 carloads and intermodal units from July 2016.

In July 2017, nine of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with July 2016. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 15 percent or 13,458 carloads; coal, up 4 percent or 13,097 carloads; and chemicals, up 1.5 percent or 1,842 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in July 2017 from July 2016 included: grain, down 14 percent or 13,325 carloads; motor vehicles & parts, down 12.9 percent or 7,544 carloads; and petroleum & petroleum products, down 15.4 percent or 6,508 carloads.

“The decline in total rail carloads in July 2017 from July 2016 was very small at 0.6 percent, but it was the first carload decline since October 2016,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Beginning in July last year, certain categories of rail traffic — coal and grain in particular — saw a surge in rail volumes. That surge suddenly made comparisons to this year much tougher. That largely explains July’s carload decline. Meanwhile, intermodal continues to do well — July’s 5.6% gain is the sixth straight year-over-year monthly increase, and intermodal is on track to set a new annual record this year.”   

Excluding coal, carloads were down 2.8 percent, or 19,176 carloads, in July 2017 from July 2016. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 1 percent, or 5,851 carloads.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first seven months of 2017 was 7,718,692 carloads, up 5.4 percent, or 397,999 carloads, from the same period last year; and 7,951,027 intermodal units, up 3.1 percent, or 235,512 containers and trailers, from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 30 weeks of 2017 was 15,669,719 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.2 percent compared to last year.

Week Ending July 29, 2017

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 550,356 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.5 percent compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending July 29 were 270,006 carloads, down 1.5 percent compared with the same week in 2016, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 280,350 containers and trailers, up 6.8 percent compared to 2016.

Three of the 10 carload commodity groups that AAR follows weekly posted an increase compared with the same week in 2016. They were nonmetallic minerals, up 6.5 percent to 40,192 carloads; coal, up 2.4 percent to 92,430 carloads; and chemicals, up 1.7 percent to 31,556 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2016 included grain, down 16 percent to 20,725 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 14.2 percent to 8,910 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, down 13.9 percent to 15,008 carloads.

North American rail volume for the week ending July 29, 2017 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 363,946 carloads, up 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 362,580 intermodal units, up 9.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 726,526 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent. North American rail volume for the first 30 weeks of 2017 was 20,757,326 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.4 percent compared with 2016.

Canadian railroads reported 77,869 carloads for the week, up 8.4 percent, and 71,202 intermodal units, up 14.9 percent compared with the same week in 2016, making this the single best week ever for Canadian intermodal rail traffic. For the first 30 weeks of 2017, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,276,788 carloads, containers and trailers, up 11.5 percent.

Mexican railroads reported 16,071 carloads for the week, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,028 intermodal units, up 73.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 30 weeks of 2017 was 810,819 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.3 percent from the same point last year.
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