Feb 10, 2020 - Economy & Business

North American rail traffic continued to slow in 2019

Data: Association of American Railroads; Table: Axios Visuals
Data: Association of American Railroads; Table: Axios Visuals

North American rail traffic continued to decline in January, with U.S. rail carloads dropping by 5.9%, or 73,110 carloads, year over year, according to the latest report from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Why it matters: It was the 12th straight month of decline, and both major rail shipments — coal (down 13.8%) and grain (down 11.6%) — had what AAR termed "lousy Januarys," accounting for a decline of 68,790 carloads for the month.

The big picture: The report suggests that improved sentiment from the U.S.-China phase one trade deal and apparent Brexit resolution has yet to make its way to the bottom line. Railroads continue to see declining numbers despite the pickup in global manufacturing reports.

Yes, but: Excluding coal and grain, U.S. carloads were down just 0.6% in January, which was the smallest decline in a year.

Go deeper: Railroads cut workers as industry automates, implements cost-cutting strategies

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