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Week 14: North American Rail Freight Traffic Rose sans Mexico

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Part 3
Week 14: North American Rail Freight Traffic Rose sans Mexico PART 3 OF 8

Why Union Pacific’s Railcar Traffic Declined in Week 14

Union Pacific’s carload volumes in Week 14

Union Pacific (UNP), which is a major Western US rail freight carrier, is scheduled to announce its 1Q18 earnings on April 26, 2018. This Omaha-headquartered carrier witnessed a 0.26% fall in its carload traffic in Week 14 of 2018. Union Pacific hauled ~92,100 railcars (excluding intermodal) that week, compared with ~92,300 railcars in Week 14 of 2017.

Among its competitors, BNSF Railway (BRK.B) registered high single-digit growth in carload traffic. Union Pacific posted a minor loss in the same category in Week 14. Its carload volumes also trended in sharp contrast with the gains registered by US railroads (XTN) in that week.

Why Union Pacific&#8217;s Railcar Traffic Declined in Week 14

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UNP’s carload traffic other than coal (ARCH) and coke rose 0.64% YoY (year-over-year) in Week 14 of 2018. From nearly 73,000 carloads excluding coal and coke in Week 14 of 2017, the company hauled ~73,400 carloads in 2018. The railroad’s coal and coke carload traffic contracted 3.6% from 19,500 units in Week 14 of 2017 to 18,800 units in Week 14 of 2018.

Changes in Union Pacific’s carload commodity groups

The following carload commodity volumes increased overall shipments in Week 14:

  • grain mill products
  • food and kindred products
  • chemicals
  • petroleum products
  • metals and products

The following carload commodity volumes pulled down traffic in Week 14:

  • grain
  • crushed stone, gravel, and sand
  • stone, clay, and glass products
  • motor vehicles and equipment

Why Union Pacific&#8217;s Railcar Traffic Declined in Week 14

Intermodal traffic in Week 14

In Week 14 of 2018, Union Pacific’s intermodal volumes declined marginally 0.2% YoY to ~68,500 containers and trailers from 68,600 units. Container volumes slid 0.9% to ~65,300 units from ~66,000 units. In contrast, trailer traffic jumped 16.8% to ~3,100 units from 2,700 units in Week 14 of 2017.

Union Pacific’s railcar volumes (including intermodal) shrank 0.2% in the first 14 weeks of 2018. During the same period, US railroads (GWR) witnessed a 2.7% rise in the same category.

In the upcoming section, we’ll consider Norfolk Southern’s (NSC) freight volumes.

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