Rail Traffic for the Week Ending December 29, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 3, 2019The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending December 29, 2018, as well as volumes for December 2018.

U.S. railroads originated 1,021,978 carloads in December 2018, up 2.9 percent, or 29,139 carloads, from December 2017. U.S. railroads also originated 1,096,116 containers and trailers in December 2018, up 5 percent, or 52,115 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in December 2018 were 2,118,094, up 4 percent, or 81,254 carloads and intermodal units from December 2017.

In December 2018, 12 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with December 2017. These included: coal, up 12,382 carloads or 3.8 percent; petroleum & petroleum products, up 10,875 carloads or 26.5 percent; and chemicals, up 3,349 carloads or 2.7 percent. Commodities that saw declines in December 2018 from December 2017 included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 3,116 carloads or 4 percent; metallic ores, down 1,402 carloads or 5.3 percent; and stone, clay & glass products, down 938 carloads or 3.4 percent.

“U.S. freight rail traffic in 2018 was positive for the most part,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray.  “Intermodal set a new annual record for the fifth time in the past six years, while carloads of chemicals and crushed stone, sand, and gravel set new annual records. Petroleum products also had a mild resurgence. For the year, 13 of the 20 commodity categories we track saw increased carloads. On the negative side, coal continued to suffer in 2018 from market forces that favor natural gas and renewables for electricity generation. What happens in 2019 will depend on how the domestic and global economies hold up and the policies – particularly monetary and trade – that come out of our legislative and executive branches.”

Excluding coal, carloads were up 16,757 carloads, or 2.5 percent, in December 2018 from December 2017. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 14,221 carloads, or 2.5 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 12 months of 2018 was 13,640,641 carloads, up 1.8 percent, or 238,857 carloads, from the same period last year; and 14,472,849 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent, or 751,217 containers and trailers, from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 52 weeks of 2018 was 28,113,490 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 3.7 percent compared to last year.

Week Ending December 29, 2018

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 411,676 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.1 percent compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending December 29 were 210,333 carloads, up 8.5 percent compared with the same week in 2017, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 201,343 containers and trailers, up 1.8 percent compared to 2017.

Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2017. They included coal, up 6,195 carloads, to 68,511; petroleum and petroleum products, up 3,495 carloads, to 11,639; and grain, up 2,771 carloads, to 18,486. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2017 were miscellaneous carloads, down 386 carloads, to 6,572; and forest products, down 289 carloads, to 9,117.

North American rail volume for the week ending December 29, 2018, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 296,547 carloads, up 9.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 267,578 intermodal units, up 2.6 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 564,125 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 52 weeks of 2018 was 37,988,156 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.4 percent compared with 2017.

Canadian railroads reported 71,380 carloads for the week, up 18 percent, and 53,354 intermodal units, up 9 percent compared with the same week in 2017. For the first 52 weeks of 2018, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,863,727 carloads, containers and trailers, up 4 percent.

Mexican railroads reported 14,834 carloads for the week, down 10.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 12,881 intermodal units, down 8.2 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 52 weeks of 2018 was 2,010,939 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers.

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For more information contact: AAR Media Relations at [email protected]  or 202-639-2345.

About AAR: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is the world’s leading railroad policy, research and technology organization focusing on the safety and productivity of rail carriers. AAR members include the major freight railroads of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as Amtrak. Learn more at www.aar.org.

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