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AAR says rail traffic drops in June

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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The Association of American Railroads released a statement today on rail traffic results for June 2019.  

According to the AAR, U.S. railroads originated 1,023,394 carloads in June 2019, down 5.3 percent, or 57,173 carloads, from June 2018, the. U.S. railroads also originated 1,075,974 containers and trailers in June 2019, down 7.2 percent, or 84,002 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in June 2019 were 2,099,368, down 6.3 percent, or 141,175 carloads and intermodal units from June 2018.

In June 2019, four of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with June 2018. These included: petroleum & petroleum products, up 8,122 carloads or 18.1 percent; nonmetallic minerals, up 774 carloads or 5.1 percent; and chemicals, up 613 carloads or 0.5 percent. Commodities that saw declines in June 2019 from June 2018 included: coal, down 30,144 carloads or 9.0 percent; crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 10,764 carloads or 9.9 percent; and grain, down 6,715 carloads or 7.1 percent.

“June marked the fifth straight monthly decline for total U.S. rail carloads and for U.S. intermodal traffic,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Manufacturing is responsible for much of the rail traffic base, but U.S. manufacturing output has been falling for several months. Housing too is in the doldrums, and trade is suffering because of tensions with trading partners overseas. Taken together, demand for rail service just isn’t as strong as it was six months or a year ago. Obviously, railroads hope things turn around, both for their own sake and for the sake of the broader economy.”

Excluding coal, carloads were down 27,029 carloads, or 3.6 percent, in June 2019 from June 2018. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 20,314 carloads, or 3.1 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first six months of 2019 was 6,552,218 carloads, down 2.9 percent, or 195,168 carloads, from the same period last year; and 6,924,261 intermodal units, down 3.2 percent, or 229,247 containers and trailers, from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 26 weeks of 2019 was 13,476,479 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 3.1 percent compared to last year.

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