RPT-COLUMN-U.S. rail freight falls as industrial economy struggles: Kemp

Tue Nov 3, 2015 8:00pm EST
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(Repeats Nov. 3 column with no changes. John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own)

* Rail freight (ton-miles): tmsnrt.rs/1GJfz87

* Rail freight (percent chg): tmsnrt.rs/1GJfz89

By John Kemp

LONDON, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Freight carried by major U.S. railroads fell by 7 percent in the second quarter of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014, confirming that large parts of the industrial economy are in recession.

The major Class 1 railroads carried 431 billion ton-miles of freight in the three months ending June, down from 463 billion ton-miles in 2014, according to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (tmsnrt.rs/1GJfz87).

Changes in freight volumes reflect broader difficulties in the industrial economy.

Rail operators have been struck by a perfect storm which has hit both their traditional and new business lines (tmsnrt.rs/1GJfz89).

Coal shipments to power plants, the biggest commodity on the network, accounting for about one-third of total tonnage, have been hit by a combination of environmental regulations and low gas prices.   Continued...