The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported weekly U.S. rail traffic, as well as volumes for May 2016.
Carload traffic in May totaled 962,571 carloads, down 10.3 percent or 110,678 from May 2015. U.S. railroads also originated 1,049,631 containers and trailers in May 2016, down 3.3 percent or 36,365 units from the same month last year. For May 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,012,202, down 6.8 percent or 147,043 carloads and intermodal units from May 2015. In May 2016, ten of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with May 2015. These included: miscellaneous carloads, up 30.8 percent or 5,854 carloads; crushed stone, gravel and sand, up 5.3 percent or 4,670 carloads; and chemicals, up 3.8 percent or 4,514 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in May 2016 from May 2015 included: coal, down 29.6 percent or 109,276 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.3 percent or 11,988 carloads; and metallic ores, down 12.9 percent or 3,701 carloads. Excluding coal, carloads were down 0.2 percent or 1,402 carloads in May 2016 from May 2015. Please note: Memorial Day is not included in May 2016 rail traffic data, but is included in May 2015 data. Therefore, May 2016 data is somewhat overstated compared to May 2015. Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 21 weeks of 2016 was 5,050,191 carloads, down 13.6 percent or 792,892 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 5,417,763 units, down 1.3 percent or 70,136 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2015. For the first five months of 2016, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 10,467,954 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.6 percent or 863,028 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year. "Most economists think the economy has picked up in the second quarter from the dismal 0.8 percent growth in the first quarter, but so far railroads aren't seeing much of it," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "A variety of environmental and market forces continue to punish coal, and high business inventory levels and excess truck capacity, among other things, are pressuring rail intermodal volumes. Railroads are focusing on what they can control - providing safe, reliable service - while looking forward to the forces they can't control turning their way." Week Ending May 28, 2016 Total U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending May 28, 2016 was 513,917 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.9 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending May 28 were 246,881 carloads, down 4.1 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 267,036 containers and trailers, up 8 percent compared to 2015. Note: Traffic this week this year does not include Memorial Day. The comparable week last year does include Memorial Day. Therefore, this week's numbers are not a true reflection of rail traffic when compared to 2015. Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2015. They included miscellaneous carloads, up 57 percent to 11,119 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, up 10.2 percent to 18,897 carloads; and nonmetallic minerals, up 9.3 percent to 35,410 carloads. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2015 were coal, down 25 percent to 65,832 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 13.9 percent to 12,258 carloads; and forest products, down 6.9 percent to 10,104 carloads. North American rail volume for the week ending May 28, 2016, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 330,252 carloads, down 5.5 percent compared with the same week last year, and 334,742 intermodal units, up 3.7 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 664,994 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 21 weeks of 2016 was 13,720,573 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.3 percent compared with 2015. Canadian railroads reported 65,392 carloads for the week, down 12.9 percent, and 56,557 intermodal units, down 10.8 percent compared with the same week in 2015. For the first 21 weeks of 2016, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,687,318 carloads, containers and trailers, down 7.5 percent. Mexican railroads reported 17,979 carloads for the week, up 6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 11,149 intermodal units, down 8.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 21 weeks of 2016 was 565,301 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.1 percent from the same point last year.