AAR reports mixed volumes for February
Rail carloads, at 1,028,141, were down 0.3%, or 2,753 carloads, compared to February 2017. Intermodal containers and trailers saw a 3.3%, or 68,217 unit gain, to 2,132,142 in February.
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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that United States rail carload and intermodal volumes were mixed for the month of February.
Rail carloads, at 1,028,141, were down 0.3%, or 2,753 carloads, compared to February 2017. AAR said nine of the 20 carload commodity categories it tracks saw gains, including: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 6,329 carloads or 7.5%; chemicals, up 4,286 carloads or 3.4%; and metallic ores, up 2,510 carloads or 19.4%. Commodities that saw declines in February 2018 from February 2017 included: coal, down 5,801 carloads or 1.7%; grain, down 4,712 carloads or 5.3%; and motor vehicles & parts, down 3,283 carloads or 4.5%.
When removing coal, February carloads were up 0.4% or 3,048 carloads, said the AAR, adding that when removing coal and grain, carloads rose 1.3% or 7,760 carloads.
Intermodal containers and trailers saw a 3.3%, or 68,217 unit gain, to 2,132,142 in February.
“Rail carloads in February, like in many other recent months, were held back by declines in coal, grain, and motor vehicles,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “Declines in those categories are unfortunate, but they don’t reflect general weakness in the economy. Excluding them, carloads were up a reasonably solid 2.1% in February. Moreover, February 2018 was the best month ever for carloads of chemicals and the second-best month ever for intermodal. While these are good signs for the broader economy going forward, they are potentially compromised by the uncertainty created by recent developments in trade policy.”
On a year-to-date basis through the first two months of 2018, U.S. carloads are down 2%, or 45,184 carloads, at 2,245,546, and intermodal units are up 5%, or 115,153 units, at 2,414,142.
For the week ending March 3, AAR said U.S. carloads are up 1.3% at 264,569, and intermodal units are up 10.4% at 279,535.
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