Transportation: Forest products rail freight up slightly in 2018; four carriers show p&p up 4%

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Transportation: Forest products rail freight up slightly in 2018; four carriers show p&p up 4%

January 21, 2019 - 05:51
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North American total forest products railroad freight was 0.5% higher in 2018 from a year ago to 916,777 carloads, the Assn of American Railroads (AAR) reported.

Volume in 2017 was 1.7% lower from 2016 at 912,295 carloads, including pulp and paper, lumber and wood products, and primary forest products, such as woodchips and logs. Some Class I carriers showed mixed results for the year with two reporting 9-10% increases in pulp and paper volumes. Among four carriers reporting separate forest products categories, pulp and paper freight was 4.4% higher to 484,695 carloads, and lumber/wood products freight was 2.4% higher to 441,889 carloads.

US total forest products freight in 2018 was 2.2% higher to 533,332 carloads with a 3.1% decline in the final week to 9,117 carloads. The US accounted for 58% of total North American forest products shipments. Canadian forest products freight was down 1.8% in 2018 to 382,003 carloads with a 6.7% drop in the final week. Canada accounted for 41.7% of North American shipments. Mexico's relatively small year-to-date volume comparisons were not available on a comparable basis, AAR said.

Nineteen of the 20 North American carload commodities tracked by AAR showed increases in 2018, except motor vehicles and parts, which were down 0.7% to 1.37 million carloads. Other major commodities such as coal was up 0.1% to 4.8 million, and chemicals were up 4% to 2.37 million. Total railroad carloads were up 2% in 2018 to 18.985 million, intermodal was up 4.8% to 19 million units, and total traffic was 3.4% higher to 37.99 million units, the AAR showed. Among major railroads,Canadian Nationalreported its pulp and paper freight was down 0.4% in 2018 to 162,298 carloads, and lumber and wood products was down 1.9% to 163,849 carloads. Primary forest products volume was down 0.8% to 70,509.

CSX showed its pulp and paper volume was up 9% to 153,546 carloads, and lumber and wood products was 6.1% higher to 62,364 carloads. Primary forest products increased 4.2% to 27,753 carloads.

Union Pacific reported pulp and paper freight for the year was up 1% to 90,489 carloads, and lumber/wood products was 4% higher to 127,392 carloads. Primary forest products rose 40% from 2017 to 12,897 carloads.

BNSF showed 2018 pulp and paper freight rose 10.2% to 78,362 carloads and lumber/wood was 6.2% higher to 88,284 carloads.

Canadian Pacific showed total forest products volume was 4.5% higher from 2017 to 68,285 carloads.

In the last week of 2018, total forest products rail volume was down 4.5% at 13,859 carloads. In the first week of 2019, volume was up 1.2% from a year ago to 14,842 carloads.

There are seven Class I carriers in North America. Oji Fibre Solutions and Port of Tauranga, NZ, renew long term operating agreement.