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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