North American rail traffic declined 3.4% last week

North American rail traffic down 3.4% for the week ending February 25

The Association of American Railroads, AAR reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending February 25, as well as volumes for February 2023.

U.S. railroads originated 905,744 carloads in February 2023, down 1.6% or 15,101 carloads, from February 2022.

U.S. railroads also originated 943,979 containers and trailers in February 2023, down 8.4%, or 86,351 units, from the same month last year.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in February 2023 were 1,849,723, down 5.2%, or 101,452 carloads and intermodal units from February 2022.

“Coal, chemicals, and grain together account for more than half of all non-intermodal U.S. rail volume.

When all three are down, like they were in February, it’s very hard for total carloads not to be down too,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray.

On the positive side, several commodities including crushed stone and sand, petroleum products, steel products, grain mill and food products showed very strong performances.

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 459,233 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.9% compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending February 25 were 226,435 carloads, up 0.1% compared with the same week in 2022, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 232,798 containers and trailers, down 11.1% compared to 2022.

North American rail volume for the week ending February 25 on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 327,221 carloads, up 2.9% compared with the same week last year, and 308,029 intermodal units, down 9.3% compared with last year.

Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 635,250 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.4%.

Publicly traded companies in the space include CSX (CSX), Canadian National (CNI), Canadian Pacific (CP), Kansas City Southern (KSU), Norfolk Southern (NSC), Union Pacific (UNP), Greenbrier (GBX), Trinity Industries (TRN), FreightCar America (RAIL) and Wabtec (WAB).

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City of Cincinnati gets $1.62B from Norfolk Southern

Norfolk Southern to purchase assets of Cincinnati Southern Railway

Norfolk Southern (NSC) announced the execution of a purchase agreement under which the company’s operating subsidiary, Norfolk Southern Railway Company, will acquire substantially all of the assets of the Cincinnati Southern Railway, an approximately 337 mile railroad that runs from Cincinnati, Ohio to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The CSR is currently owned by the City of Cincinnati and operated by the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Norfolk Southern Railway, under a lease agreement expiring in 2026.

The agreement provides the company ownership of approximately 9,500 acres of land that sits under infrastructure maintained and operated by Norfolk Southern.

Further, it ensures Norfolk Southern will own the line in perpetuity, while eliminating uncertainty around future lease costs.

The line is one of the highest density segments of the company’s network, with as many as 30 trains a day traveling the route.

Upon the close of the transaction, projected to occur in the first half of 2024, the City of Cincinnati will receive cash consideration of approximately $1.62B.

Norfolk Southern intends to finance the transaction through a combination of internal and external sources.

The City of Cincinnati plans to use the proceeds of the transaction to form an infrastructure fund that will benefit the citizens of Cincinnati for generations to come.

The trust would solely fund the rehabilitation, modernization, or replacement of existing infrastructure such as streets, bridges, municipal buildings, parks, and green space.

The closing is subject to certain conditions, including approval by the voters of Cincinnati and the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

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Rail Traffic Declines as Growth Slows!

North American rail traffic down 1% for the week ending September 17

The Association of American Railroads, AAR, reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending September 17. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 490,654 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.9% compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending September 17 were 239,528 carloads, up 2% compared with the same week in 2021, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 251,126 containers and trailers, down 7.3% compared to 2021.

Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2021.

They included coal, up 3,948 carloads, to 72,774; nonmetallic minerals, up 2,491 carloads, to 35,163; and motor vehicles and parts, up 2,185 carloads, to 13,879.

Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2021 included metallic ores and metals, down 3,192 carloads, to 21,581; miscellaneous carloads, down 1,623 carloads, to 8,250; and forest products, down 1,362 carloads, to 9,076. North American rail volume for the week ending September 17, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 342,034 carloads, up 3.5% compared with the same week last year, and 341,595 intermodal units, down 4.7% compared with last year.

Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 683,629 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.8%.

North American rail volume for the first 37 weeks of 2022 was 25,025,034 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.4% compared with 2021.

Publicly traded companies in the space include CSX (CSX), Canadian National (CNI), Canadian Pacific (CP), Kansas City Southern (KSU), Norfolk Southern (NSC), Union Pacific (UNP) and Trinity Industries (TRN), Greenbrier (GBX), FreightCar America (RAIL) and Wabtec (WAB).

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Beige Book says housing is slowing amid high inflation

Fed’s Beige Book reiterated the economy expanded at a moderate pace

Fed’s Beige Book reiterated the economy expanded at a moderate pace.

But there was a big “however,” something the Fed typically does not express:

“several Districts reported grow signs of a slowdown in demand, and contacts in five Districts noted concerns over an increased risk of a recession.”

Most Districts reported moderation in consumer spending as higher food and gas prices diminished households’ discretionary income.

Federal Reserve Regions

Auto sales were sluggish with low inventories still impacting.

Leisure travel was “healthy.” Manufacturing was mixed. Non-financial services firms saw stable to slightly higher demand. Housing demand weakened.

As in the prior report, the outlook for future economic growth was mostly negative.

Employment generally continued to rise at a moderate pace and conditions were tight overall.

Jerome Powell, FOMC Chair

But there was some sign of modest improvement in labor availability.

Most Districts reported wage growth.

“Substantial” price increases were reported across all Districts, at all stages of consumption, with food, commodities, and energy (particularly fuel) cost remaining “significant.”

There was some moderation in construction materials.

Pricing power was steady, but firms in some sectors like travel and hospitality, were able to pass through sizeable increases to consumers. That is seen persisting through the year.

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FOMC Raises Rates

Fed boosts rates 50 basis points, says ongoing raises ‘appropriate’ 

The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run. With appropriate firming in the stance of monetary policy, the Committee expects inflation to return to its 2 percent objective and the labor market to remain strong. In support of these goals, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 3/4 to 1 percent and anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate.”

Federal Reserve to reduce Treasury, debt holdings on June 1 – The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “The Committee decided to begin reducing its holdings of Treasury securities and agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities on June 1, as described in the Plans for Reducing the Size of the Federal Reserve’s Balance Sheet that were issued in conjunction with this statement.”

Fed says inflation remains elevated, Ukraine impacts ‘highly uncertain’ – The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “Although overall economic activity edged down in the first quarter, household spending and business fixed investment remained strong. Job gains have been robust in recent months, and the unemployment rate has declined substantially. Inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher energy prices, and broader price pressures.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is causing tremendous human and economic hardship. The implications for the U.S. economy are highly uncertain. The invasion and related events are creating additional upward pressure on inflation and are likely to weigh on economic activity. In addition, COVID-related lockdowns in China are likely to exacerbate supply chain disruptions. The Committee is highly attentive to inflation risks.”

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Rail Traffic Declined Last Week!

North American rail traffic fell 7.5% for the week ending April 16

The Association of American Railroads, AAR, reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 16.

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 489,801 carloads and intermodal units, down 8.1% compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending April 16 were 221,228 carloads, down 6.8% compared with the same week in 2021, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 268,573 containers and trailers, down 9.2% compared to 2021. North American rail volume for the week ending April 16 on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 319,064 carloads, down 6.8% compared with the same week last year, and 354,060 intermodal units, down 8.1% compared with last year.

Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 673,124 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.5%.

North American rail volume for the first 15 weeks of 2022 was 9,987,458 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.9% compared with 2021.

Publicly traded companies in the space include CSX (CSX), Canadian National (CNI), Canadian Pacific (CP), Kansas City Southern (KSU), Norfolk Southern (NSC), Trinity Industries (TRN), Greenbrier (GBX), Wabtec (WAB), FreightCar America (RAIL), Union Pacific (UNP) and GATX (GATX).

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GE to split into three companies

General Electric to form three public companies

GE announced its plan to form three industry-leading, global public companies focused on the growth sectors of aviation, healthcare, and energy, by: Pursuing a tax-free spin-off of GE Healthcare, creating a pure-play company at the center of precision health in early 2023, in which GE expects to retain a stake of 19.9 percent; and Combining GE Renewable Energy, GE Power, and GE Digital into one business, positioned to lead the energy transition, and then pursuing a tax-free spin-off of this business in early 2024.

GE to split into three

Following these transactions, GE will be an aviation-focused company shaping the future of flight.

As independently run companies, the businesses will be better positioned to deliver long-term growth and create value for customers, investors, and employees, with each benefitting from: Deeper operational focus, accountability, and agility to meet customer needs; Tailored capital allocation decisions in line with distinct strategies and industry-specific dynamics; Strategic and financial flexibility to pursue growth opportunities; Dedicated boards of directors with deep domain expertise; Business- and industry-oriented career opportunities and incentives for employees; and Distinct and compelling investment profiles appealing to broader, deeper investor bases.

GE Chairman and CEO H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. said, “At GE we have always taken immense pride in our purpose of building a world that works. The world demands-and deserves-we bring our best to solve the biggest challenges in flight, healthcare, and energy.

By creating three industry-leading, global public companies, each can benefit from greater focus, tailored capital allocation, and strategic flexibility to drive long-term growth and value for customers, investors, and employees. We are putting our technology expertise, leadership, and global reach to work to better serve our customers.”

Culp will serve as non-executive chairman of the GE healthcare company upon its spin-off.

He will continue to serve as chairman and CEO of GE until the second spin-off, at which point, he will lead the GE aviation-focused company going forward.

Peter Arduini will assume the role of president and CEO of GE Healthcare effective January 1, 2022.

Peter Arduin

Scott Strazik will be the CEO of the combined Renewable Energy, Power, and Digital business while John Slattery continues as CEO of Aviation.

Scott Strazik

GE intends to execute the spin-offs of Healthcare in early 2023 and of the Renewable Energy and Power business in early 2024.

John Slattery

The respective capital structures, brands, and leadership teams for each independent company will be determined and announced later.

Where required to do so, GE will consult with employee representatives in line with its legal obligations before any final decisions are taken.

Through the transition, GE will be able to monetize its stakes in AerCap and Baker Hughes, prioritizing further debt reduction.

Each of the three resulting independent companies will be well capitalized with investment-grade ratings.

Following the spin-off transactions, GE will retain other assets and liabilities of GE today, including run-off insurance operations.

Upon closing the Healthcare transaction, GE expects to retain a stake of 19.9 percent in the healthcare company to provide capital allocation flexibility.

GE also intends that Healthcare will issue debt securities, the proceeds of which will be used to pay down outstanding GE debt.

The transactions are not subject to bondholder consent.

The company expects to incur one-time separation, transition, and operational costs of approximately $2 billion and tax costs of less than $0.5 billion, which will depend on specifics of the transaction.

The proposed spin-offs of Healthcare and the Renewable Energy and Power business are intended to be tax-free for GE and GE shareholders for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

The transactions are subject to the satisfaction of customary conditions, including final approvals by GE’s Board of Directors, private letter rulings from the Internal Revenue Service and/or tax opinions from counsel, the filing and effectiveness of Form 10 registration statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and satisfactory completion of financing.

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Railroad Traffic Points to Growing Economy

North American rail traffic rose 10.6% in week ended June 19, AAR says

The Association of American Railroads, AAR, reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 19.

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 514,112 carloads and intermodal units, up 12.5% compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending June 19 were 232,144 carloads, up 15.1% compared with the same week in 2020, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 281,968 containers and trailers, up 10.4% compared to 2020.

For some rail traffic categories, percentage changes for the current week compared with the same week in 2020 are inflated because of the widespread shutdowns – and subsequent large reduction in rail volumes – that impacted many economic sectors last year at this time.

North American rail volume for the week ending June 19, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 329,907 carloads, up 11.3% compared with the same week last year, and 369,258 intermodal units, up 10% compared with last year.

Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 699,165 carloads and intermodal units, up 10.6%.

North American rail volume for the first 24 weeks of 2021 was 16,805,420 carloads and intermodal units, up 12.1% compared with 2020.

Publicly traded companies in the space include CSX (CSX), Canadian National (CNI), Canadian Pacific (CP), Genesee & Wyoming (GWR), Kansas City Southern (KSU), Norfolk Southern (NSC) and Union Pacific (UNP).

Dow Jones Transport Index is up 19 points to 14,959.

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