Sep 15, 2019

U.S. railroad traffic and freight volume shipments slump

The River Subdivision of CSX Transportation Rail Line near Saugerties, New York. Photo: Getty Images

Railroad traffic and freight volume shipments are dropping below levels seen around this same time in 2016, 2017 and 2018, data from the Association of American Railroads shows.

Why it matters: An efficiency strategy called precision scheduled railroading (PSR) could be North American railroads' "last hope for continued profit growth," Barron's magazine reports — amid concerns of global economic slowdowns, a trade war and recession across the U.S., particularly in Michigan, Hawaii, Montana, Maryland and Louisiana.

  • PSR "uses departure schedules and point-to-point delivery methods to achieve low operating rations and consolidate railroad networks," according to breakthroughfuel.com.
  • In July, rail transportation and real estate company CSX "reported a drop in its last quarter's revenue and warned of a decline in the year's freight volumes," writes Barron's — but CSX shares have recovered nearly half of the 20% they lost following the company's warning.

The bottom line, per Barron's: "If the magic of precision scheduled railroading has only a few more percentage points of operating profit to deliver to railroads like Union Pacific, then profit growth will have to come from increased shipping volumes and price increases. And those growth drivers are not moving in the right direction."

Go deeper: The decline of American coal is taking a toll on the railroad industry

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Updated 17 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Over 500 schools in South Korea have either closed or postponed reopening, according to the Korea Times, which cites data from the Ministry of Education.

Why it matters: South Korea has been a model for how to handle the novel coronavirus, and the closures reportedly followed concerns from parents and teachers over child safety. The country's confirmed death toll has plateaued at 269 over the past few days, with few increases, per Johns Hopkins data.

Updated 19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 5,877,503— Total deaths: 362,731 — Total recoveries — 2,464,595Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,735,971 — Total deaths: 102,286 — Total recoveries: 399,991 — Total tested: 15,646,041Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  4. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  5. Supreme Court: Senators Grassley, Leahy urge Supreme Court to continue live streams post-pandemic.
  6. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.
  7. 🚀 Space: How to virtually watch SpaceX's first crewed launch Saturday.

Trump to end Hong Kong’s special trade status

President Trump. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Friday that the U.S. would be fundamentally changing longstanding policies toward Hong Kong as a result of Chinese encroachment on the city's autonomy.

Why it matters: Trump said he would be effectively ending the special trade status that has allowed Hong Kong to flourish as a gateway to the Chinese market. That leaves an uncertain future for businesses that operate in Hong Kong, not to mention the city's 7 million residents, and could be met with reprisals from Beijing.