AAR reports annual declines for U.S. carloads and intermodal units in February

Carloads dropped 2.7%, or 28,238 carloads, annually to 999,978, and intermodal units slipped 0.9%, or 9,513 units, to 1,094,499.

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

Rail carloads dropped 2.7%, or 28,238 carloads, annually to 999,978. AAR said that eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR were down annually, including: petroleum & petroleum products, up 8,269 carloads or 20.5%; primary metal products, up 1,378 carloads or 3.7%; and pulp & paper products, up 1,165 carloads or 5.5%. Commodities that saw declines in February 2019 from February 2018 included: coal, down 22,945 carloads or 6.7%; crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 6,190 carloads or 6.9%; and grain mill products, down 2,262 carloads or 5.9%.

When excluding coal, February carloads were off 0.8% or 5,293 carloads, annually, and when excluding coal and grain February carloads were off 5,458 carloads, or 0.9%.

Intermodal containers and trailers slipped 0.9%, or 9,513 units, to 1,094,499.

“It’s impossible to know how much of the sluggishness in rail volumes in February was due to weather and how much was due to weakness in the overall economy, but it seems likely that weather played a role,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray in a statement. “Every winter causes problems for railroads, but this past February on average was noticeably colder than last year in much of the country and that may have been enough to pull rail volumes below last year. That said, trade-related uncertainty hasn’t helped, nor has the economic uncertainty engendered by perceived softness in parts of the economy.”

For the week ending March 2, U.S. carloads were down 5.5% annually to 250,522, trailing the week ending February 23 at 259,954 and topping the week ending February 16 at 250,236. Intermodal units were down 0.7% to 277,631, topping the week ending February 16 at 265,676 and the week ending February 9 at 273,679.

08 March 2019 | Supply Chain 24/7