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U.S. railroads' combined carload and intermodal traffic ticked up 0.5 percent to 2,017,641 units last month compared with January 2016, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).U.S. carload traffic for the month totaled 996,573 units, up 2.9 percent compared with last year. Intermodal traffic declined 1.8 percent to 1,021,068 containers and trailers for the month.In January, nine of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR on a monthly basis posted gains compared with January 2016. They included coal, up 11.9 percent or 35,798 carloads; grain, up 5.2 percent or 4,570 carloads; and waste and nonferrous scrap, up 20.9 percent or 2,546 carloads.Commodities that posted decreases in January compared with a year ago included petroleum and petroleum products, down 19.5 percent or 9,751 carloads; chemicals, down 3.6 percent or 4,456 carloads; and stone, clay and glass products, down 10.9 percent or 2,904 carloads. January's rail traffic picture was "mixed," with some commodities exceeding expectations while others were down or flat, said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John Gray in a press release."For most of last year, coal carloads were down sharply, but for the past couple of months, including January, they've been the major force behind rail carload gains," Gray said. "We can probably expect continued uncertainty in energy markets going forward, but we're hopeful that improving macro-economic fundamentals will drive improvement in rail volumes for many commodity categories this year."
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