U.S. rail carload and intermodal volumes are mixed in November, reports AAR

Rail carloads, at 1,032,067, were down 0.2%, or 2,418 carloads, annually. Intermodal containers and trailers headed up 2.5%, or 27,142 units, to 1,100,815.

By ·

United States rail carload and intermodal volumes in January were mixed, according to data issued this week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Rail carloads, at 1,032,067, were down 0.2%, or 2,418 carloads, annually.  AAR said that nine of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with November 2017, including: petroleum & petroleum products, up 11,674 carloads or 29% all other carloads, up 2,920 carloads or 13.7%; and primary metal products, up 2,636 carloads or 7.9%. Commodities that annual declines included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 12,090 carloads or 12.8%; motor vehicles & parts, down 3,704 carloads or 5.5%; and coal, down 2,840 carloads or 0.8%.

When removing coal carloads, AAR said that November carloads were up by 422, or 0.1%. And when removing coal and grain, carloads were up 2,140 carloads, or 0.4%.

The 0.2% annual decline is down from October’s 1% annual gain, and is down sharply from annual spreads in months prior to that. July carloads were up 3.5%, with August and September up 3.8% and 2.6% increases, respectively.

Intermodal containers and trailers headed up 2.5%, or 27,142 units, to 1,100,815. This is down from October’s 4.2% annual increase and is also down compared to previous annual gains July, August, and September, which were up 6.9%, 5.1%, and 6.2%, respectively.

“Rail traffic was not as strong in November as in other recent months. Total carloads fell for the first time in nine months, in part because of lower carloads of frac sand, while intermodal grew only modestly,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement.  “November might just be a temporary correction as rail customers rebalance inventories. However, it would be prudent to keep an eye on forward-looking economic indicators. It’s much too soon to sound an economic alarm, but there is uncertainty, especially regarding trade policy, that is causing volatility in markets railroads serve.”

Through the first 11 months of 2018, U.S. carloads are up 1.7%, or 209,718 carloads, to 12,618,883. Intermodal containers and trailers are up 5.5%, or 699,102 units, to 13,376,733.

For the week ending December 1, U.S. rail carloads were down 1.7% annually to 273,752, and intermodal units were up 2.4% to 293,530.


Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Making the Case for Comprehensive Aftermarket Lift Truck Services
Service After the Sale: Looking Beyond Acquisition Costs
Download Today!
From the January 2019 Logistics Management Magazine Issue
Seaports on West, East, and Gulf coasts are all poised to compete on one major imperative: investment in transformational technologies.
2019 Rate Outlook: Pressure Builds
Lift Trucks join the connected enterprise
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2019 Rate Outlook: Will this be the year rates skyrocket?
Join Logistics Management's Patrick Burnson as he hosts a panel of fuel, trade and logistics experts who share their insights on rate patterns across all major transport modes to help shippers prepare their freight transportation budget for the coming year.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2019 Rate Outlook: Pressure Builds
In 2019, the world economy will enter a third straight year of broad-based growth, but many...
2019 Transportation Management Systems (TMS) Market Update: Keeping pace with the times
The transportation management systems market is growing right along with the number of challenges...

The Logistics News that Shaped 2018
Every year at this time, group news editor Jeff Berman combs through the mountain of news that was...
Land O’Lakes lock in Texas-based capacity
Faced with the challenge of securing capacity in specific lanes, the iconic company broke with...