U.S. rail freight continued to drop in May

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced that its members’ that carload traffic in May totaled 962,571 carloads, down 10.3 percent or 110,678 from May 2015.

U.S. railroads also originated 1,049,631 containers and trailers in May 2016, down 3.3 percent or 36,365 units from the same month last year.

For May 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,012,202, down 6.8 percent or 147,043 carloads and intermodal units from May 2015.

Ten of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with May 2015. These included: miscellaneous carloads, up 30.8 percent or 5,854 carloads; crushed stone, gravel and sand, up 5.3 percent or 4,670 carloads; and chemicals, up 3.8 percent or 4,514 carloads.

Commodities that saw declines in May 2016 from May 2015 included: coal, down 29.6 percent or 109,276 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.3 percent or 11,988 carloads; and metallic ores, down 12.9 percent or 3,701 carloads.

Excluding coal, carloads were down 29.6 percent or 259,735 carloads from May 2015.

“Most economists think the economy has picked up in the second quarter from the dismal 0.8 percent growth in the first quarter, but so far railroads aren’t seeing much of it,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. “A variety of environmental and market forces continue to punish coal, and high business inventory levels and excess truck capacity, among other things, are pressuring rail intermodal volumes. Railroads are focusing on what they can control — providing safe, reliable service — while looking forward to the forces they can’t control turning their way.”

Source: AAR

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