US freight rail traffic ends 2015 with a whimper

US freight rail traffic ends 2015 with a whimper

U.S. freight rail traffic was down 9.7 percent year-over-year in the week ending Dec. 26 as a double-digit drop in carload traffic offset a 1.6 percent gain in intermodal volume, the Association of American Railroads reported.

Total carloads for the week were 206,903, down 17.9 percent from a year earlier, mainly because of declines in coal, petroleum and petroleum products, and ores and metals. U.S. intermodal volume totaled 184,204 containers and trailers, up 1.6 percent.

For the first 51 weeks of 2015, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 14,058,461 carloads, down 5.8 percent, and 13,522,726 intermodal units, up 1.6 percent. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 51 weeks was 27,581,187 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 2.3 percent from last year.

Two of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by the AAR posted year-over-year increases. Miscellaneous carloads rose 17.8 percent, to 6,273 carloads; and motor vehicles and parts, increased 12.8 percent, to 13,229 carloads.

Coal dropped 31.6 percent, to 70,350 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products were down 26.2 percent, to 10,537 carloads; and metallic ores and metals, declined 26.1 percent, to 17,001 carloads. For the first 51 weeks of 2015, carload volume was down 11.5 percent for coal, 9.5 percent for petroleum and petroleum products, and 12.9 percent for ores and metals.

North American rail volume for the week ending Dec. 26, 2015, on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 281,217 carloads, down 16.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 234,893 intermodal units, up 0.4 percent compared with last year.

North American rail volume for the first 51 weeks of 2015 was 35,923,713 carloads and intermodal units, down 2 percent compared with 2014.

Canadian railroads reported 61,354 carloads for the week, down 13.4 percent, and 42,647 intermodal units, down 2.3 percent compared with a year earlier. For the first 51 weeks of 2015, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,960,578 carloads, containers and trailers, down 1.5 percent.

Mexican railroads reported 12,960 carloads for the week, down 12 percent from a year earlier, and 8,042 intermodal units, down 12.3 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 51 weeks of 2015 was 1,381,948 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.2 percent.