(Source: Progressive Railroading 02/07/2019)
U.S. rail traffic rose by just 1.1 percent to 2,554,655 carloads and intermodal units last month compared with January 2018 levels, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.
Carload traffic climbed 1.7 percent to 1,238,487 units, while intermodal volumes inched up 0.5 percent to 1,316,168 containers and trailers.
Eleven of the 20 carload commodity categories that AAR tracks on a regular basis posted gains in January. They included petroleum and petroleum products, up 12,791 carloads or 23.9 percent; chemicals, up 3,841 carloads or 2.5 percent; and primary metal products, up 3,103 carloads or 7.2 percent.
Commodities that logged decreases last month included crushed stone, sand and gravel, down 2,118 carloads or 2.2 percent; coke, down 2,046 carloads or 9.9 percent; and motor vehicles and parts, down 2,015 carloads or 2.7 percent.
January’s traffic figures reflected mixed results, with some key commodity groups producing gains and others continuing to be a “drag” on carloads, said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John Gray in a press release.
“Intermodal volumes, chemicals and petroleum and petroleum products all continued their momentum from 2018,” he said. “On the other hand, motor vehicles and parts were down in January — and overall carloads were held back by declines in coal and grain, but these fluctuations don’t reflect weakness in the economy.”