Week 14: BNSF Railway’s Railcar Growth versus the Industry
BNSF Railway’s carloads in Week 14
In the week ended April 7, 2018, Berkshire Hathaway–owned BNSF Railway’s (BRK.B) carload volumes jumped 8.7%. From 92,000 railcars excluding intermodal units in Week 14 of 2017, the company hauled ~100,000 units in the same week in 2018.
Compared with BNSF Railway’s high single-digit rise in carload traffic, its rival Union Pacific (UNP) witnessed a minor 0.3% slump in the same category in Week 14 of 2018. While the US railroads’ (XLI) carload volumes expanded 4.6% in that week, BNSF almost doubled in percentage terms in the 14th week of 2018.
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Excluding coal (ARLP) and coke, BNSF’s other carload traffic accounted for 64.0% of total carloads, and the remaining 35.0% comprised coal and coke carloads in Week 14 of 2018. These proportions nearly identical to Week 14 in 2017.
Carloads sans coal (BTU) and coke soared 9.1% to ~64,000 units from 58,800 units last year. Carloads of coal and coke expanded 8.0%, nearing 35,900 units in Week 14 of 2018.
Changes in carload commodity groups
The following carload commodity groups expanded in Week 14 of 2018:
- metallic ores
- petroleum products
- grain mill products
The volumes of this carload commodity pulled down total carloads in Week 14 of 2018:
- sand and gravel
BNSF’s intermodal volumes
BNSF Railway’s intermodal traffic rose 1.4% in Week 14 of 2018. The company hauled ~99,400 trainers and containers that week, in comparison with over 98,000 units in Week 14 of 2017. While container traffic contracted slightly, trailer volumes showed a robust expansion.
Container traffic slid 1.1% to ~87,000 containers compared with ~88,000 units in 2017. The railroad moved 12,500 trailers in 2018, which was an increase from ~10,200 units in Week 14 of 2017.
In the first 14 weeks of 2018, BNSF Railway registered a 4.7% increase in railcar traffic overall, far exceeding the average 2.7% expansion posted by US railroads (GWR).
In the next part, we’ll assess Union Pacific’s railcar volumes.