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October 10, 2018
Freight traffic on American railroads continued to grow in September
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reports that U.S. railroads originated originated 1,066,826 carloads in September 2018, up 2.6 percent, or 26,826 carloads, from September 2017. U.S. railroads also originated 1,127,385 containers and trailers in September 2018, up 6.2 percent, or 65,801 units, from the same month last year.
Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in September 2018 were 2,194,211, up 4.4 percent, or 92,627 carloads and intermodal units from September 2017.
In September 2018, 14 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with September 2017. These included: petroleum & petroleum products, up 14,750 carloads or 41.5 percent; chemicals, up 5,145 carloads or 4.2 percent; and grain, up 5,001 carloads or 6.1 percent.
Commodities that saw declines in September 2018 from September 2017 included: coal, down 5,562 carloads or 1.6 percent; crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 3,042 carloads or 3 percent; and motor vehicles & parts, down 877 carloads or 1.3 percent.
"Weakness in a few commodity categories notwithstanding, rail traffic in September was consistent with the economy we have today in which fundamentals like industrial output and consumer spending are solid," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "Intermodal, the business line most closely related to consumer spending, was especially strong — the last two weeks of September were the top two weeks in history for U.S. intermodal. Tracking the economy and rail traffic require diligence to help identify turning points, but for now there is no indication that good economic times will end in the immediate future."
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