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North American Rail Traffic Fell 8% in Week Ended Nov. 2

By Colin Kellaher

 

North American rail traffic fell 8% last week, as global trade disputes and slowing growth overseas continue to weigh on freight carriers, data from the Association of American Railroads showed.

Carload volume for the week ended Oct. 26 on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads declined by 8%, while intermodal traffic fell 7.9%, the trade group said Wednesday.

North American rail traffic was also down 8% in the week ended Oct. 26. For the first 44 weeks of the year, North American volume is now down 3.3%, compared with a year-to-date drop of 3.2% reported a week earlier.

The AAR said U.S. rail traffic slid 8.8% last week, matching an 8.8% drop a week earlier. U.S. carloads fell 8.9% amid a 17.5% drop in shipments of coal, the largest of the 10 commodity groups tracked. The volume of U.S. intermodal containers and trailers fell 8.6% for the week.

"Sluggish growth abroad and trade developments are weighing on business investment, exports, and manufacturing," said John Gray, AAR senior vice president. "Unfotunately, those are precisely what drive much of the freight carried by U.S. railroads, and their weakness goes a long way in explaining why rail traffic is down right now."

For the month of October, U.S. rail traffic fell 8.1%, marking the ninth straight month of declines for both carloads and intermodal units. U.S. rail traffic is now down 4.4% for the year to date, compared with a decline of 4.3% reported a week earlier, the AAR said.

"Railroads are hopeful that policymakers here and abroad will take sensible actions aimed at accelerating growth and removing the uncertainty that's constraining many economic sectors," Mr. Gray said.

The AAR said Canadian rail traffic fell 7.4% last week amid a 7.6% drop in carloads and a 7.1% decline in intermodal units.

Mexican rail traffic rose 1.2% last week, the AAR said, as a 3.6% rise in carloads more than offset a 1.1% decline in intermodal units.

 

Write to Colin Kellaher at colin.kellaher@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 06, 2019 13:22 ET (18:22 GMT)

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