The current strategy followed by many railroads is to provide minimally acceptable service in carload
markets, while aggressively reducing operating costs.
These uncertainties, combined with a stock market that's very near-term focused, and which can, at times, run counter to investing for growth, may result in continuing rail carload
volume in the second half of the year to be flat to as much as 5 percent lower than the same period in 2018, which would continue the downward trend that U.S.
rail volumes fell 3.5 percent to 16.05 million carloads
and intermodal units for the first 31 weeks of 2019.
ago Rail freight -0.2 2.1 5.7 Intermodal -0.4 2.9 11.9 Carload
-0.2 1.9 4.4
North American year-to-date rail volumes totaled 21.16 million carloads
and intermodal units for the week ending July 27, 2.3 percent lower than the comparable period in 2018, according to the latest data from the Association of American Railroads.
Meanwhile, in the carload
rail industry, prices have been slowly accelerating from a negative 4.1% rate set in March 2016 and are showing no signs of turning yet.
In the carload
market, prices were up 5.3% in September and up 4.5% in the third quarter.
In the three months ending August 2018 compared to a year ago, intermodal average prices are zooming at a rapid 15.9% rate and carload
prices are chugging along at a steady 3.9% pace.
The railroads have been dealing with service-side issues for the past several months, as well as carload
volume declines in key commodity areas.