U.S. rail carload and intermodal volumes see slight annual gains for week ending February 2

Rail carloads, at 1,238,487, were up 1.7%, or 21,054 carloads, annually, and intermodal containers and trailers, at 1,316,168, rose 0.5%, or 6,008 units.

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United States rail carload and intermodal volumes each saw modest annual gains in January, according to data issued this week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Rail carloads, at 1,238,487, were up 1.7%, or 21,054 carloads, annually. AAR said that 11 of the 20 carload commodities it tracks saw annual gains for the month, including: petroleum & petroleum products, up 12,791 carloads or 23.9%; chemicals, up 3,841 carloads or 2.5%; and primary metal products, up 3,103 carloads or 7.2%. Commodities that saw declines in January 2019 from January 2018 included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 2,118 carloads or 2.2%; coke, down 2,046 carloads or 9.9%; and motor vehicles & parts, down 2,015 carloads or 2.7%.

When removing coal carloads, AAR said January U.S. carloads were up 2.7% annually, and when removing coal and grain, U.S. carloads were up 3.3%.

Intermodal containers and trailers, at 1,316,168, rose 0.5%, or 6,008 units, annually.

“January rail traffic painted a mixed picture, with healthy gains for some key commodities, while others continued to be a drag on overall carload numbers,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray in a statement. “Intermodal volumes, chemicals and petroleum and petroleum products all continued their momentum from 2018. 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.”

For the week ending February 2, U.S. carloads were down 9.4% compared to the same week a year ago to 242,718, and intermodal units fell 9.6% to 255,570.

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