Association of American Railroads reports traffic for May

Statistics on weekly U.S. rail traffic for the first five months of 2015 and volumes for May 15 were released this week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

In May, 1.074 million carloads ran, down 9.4 percent from the previous year. Containers and trailers originated at U.S. railroads totaled 1.08 million, up 3.8 percent from 2014. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were at 2.16 million, down 3.2 percent from the previous year.

A quarter of the 20 carload commodity categories the AAR monitors each month had carload gains over the past year. Commodities tracked included automobiles and parts (up 4.5 percent), waste and non-ferrous scrap (up 3.8 percent), and grain mill products (up 1.3 percent).

Commodities that declined over the past year were coal (17.4 percent), primary metal products (17.9 percent) and grain (6.2 percent). Carloads decreased 4.5 percent from May 2014 to May 2015 and U.S. carloads dropped 4.3 percent last month.

A decrease of 3 percent was seen over the first five months of 2015 in U.S. carload traffic. Intermodal containers and trailers increased by 2 percent from the same time span in 2014. In the first five months of 2015, total rail traffic volume dropped 0.6 percent from last year.

"Mixed signals is a good term to use to describe the economy nowadays, and it applies to rail traffic too," AAR senior vice president of policy and economics John Gray said.

For the week ending May 30, carloads and intermodal units were down 4.9 percent from the same period last year. Carloads were down 10.7 percent and U.S. weekly intermodal volume was up 2.1 percent.

Of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked, four saw increases compared to the same week last year. Those that saw increases were miscellaneous carloads, motor vehicles and parts, farm products and food.

Rail volume in North America for the week ending May 30 was down 11.2 percent from 2014; intermodal units increased 3.4 percent.

The complete report can be found online at