By Colin Kellaher


North American rail traffic fell 3.9% last week, data from the Association of American Railroads showed, and declining U.S. freight volumes are starting to weigh on the financial results of railroad operators.

Carload volume for the week ended July 13 on a dozen reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads fell 3.2%, while intermodal traffic fell 4.6%, the trade group said Wednesday.

North American rail traffic was 5.1% lower in the week ended July 6. For the first 28 weeks of the year, North American volume is down 2.2%, compared with a year-to-date decline of 2.1% reported last week.

The AAR said U.S. rail traffic slid 5.6% last week after tumbling 7.5% a week earlier. U.S. carloads fell 4% amid declines in 8 of the 10 commodity groups tracked, while the volume of U.S. intermodal containers and trailers fell 7.2% for the week.

U.S. rail traffic is now down 3.3% for the year to date, compared with a cumulative decline of 3.2% at the end of the previous week, the AAR said.

Florida-based freight railroad CSX Corp. (CSX) on Tuesday cut its outlook for the year amid weaker-than-expected shipping volumes for its industrial customers, and its chief executive said volumes weren't showing signs of improving soon.

"Global and U.S. economic conditions have been unusual to say the least," Jim Foote said. "The present economic backdrop is one of the most puzzling I've experienced in my career."

CSX's report sent its shares down more than 10% in midday trading Wednesday and weighed on other railroad stocks, with Norfolk Southern Corp. (NSC) down 6.5% and Union Pacific Corp. (UNP) off 5.7%.

By contrast, the AAR said rail traffic rose 1.6% in Canada last week, as a 5.1% increase in intermodal units more than offset a 1.3% decline in carloads.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP.T, CP) on Tuesday reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue for the second quarter, helped by shipments of grains, energy, chemical and plastics products.

Canadian rail traffic is up 2.1% for the year to date.

Rail traffic slipped 0.3% in Mexico last week, the AAR said, with carloads down 0.9% and intermodal units up 0.3%.


Write to Colin Kellaher at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 17, 2019 13:43 ET (17:43 GMT)

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