The 45 locomotives now sitting idle in a Fargo, North Dakota trainyard highlight the continued slump in BNSF Railway shipping volumes.
BNSF also has 150 locomotives and rail engines sitting idle near Gillette, Wyoming, and dozens more in temporary storage in Oklahoma City.
The locomotives, which are lined up in an almost endless train, are just one physical manifestation of a dramatic drop in demand for coal, petroleum, and metals.
For the year to date, total carloads are down a precipitous 18.49%.
Coal shipments, which last year at this time had reached 826,353 carloads, are only at 520,742 carloads through May 9, 2016. The change represents a 36.98% decrease.
BNSF’s carload reports show that the drop in carloads was not just due to coal, but cut across a number of sectors.
Shipments of metal ores are down 36.76%. And with global oil prices still low, shipments of petroleum from the Bakken Formation are down a dramatic 26.89%.
Profits for the first quarter of 2016 were down 25%.
© 2016 David Mazor
Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.