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April 09, 2018

Freight traffic on American railroads up 5 percent in March

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reports that U.S. railroads originated 1,050,653 carloads in March 2018, up 3.6 percent, or 36,157 carloads, from March 2017. U.S. railroads also originated 1,082,239 containers and trailers in March 2018, up 6.5 percent, or 66,151 units, from the same month last year.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in March 2018 were 2,132,892, up 5 percent, or 102,308 carloads and intermodal units from March 2017.

"Railroads are a derived-demand industry," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "Their level of business depends to a large degree on what's happening elsewhere in the economy. There's always some economic uncertainty today that involves, among other things, trade relations, commodity prices, and what the Fed will do about interest rates but economic signals today are mostly positive. Rail traffic in March was largely positive too, at least in terms of traffic segments that are most sensitive to what's going on in the economy."

Excluding coal, carloads were up 11,290 carloads, or 1.6 percent, in March 2018 from March 2017. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 11,042 carloads, or 1.8 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first three months of 2018 was 3,296,199 carloads, down 0.3 percent, or 9,027 carloads, from the same period last year; and 3,496,381 intermodal units, up 5.5 percent, or 181,304 containers and trailers, from last year.

Source: AAR