Total railfreight volumes, covering both wagonloads and intermodal units, was 27.98 million units in 2015, a fall of approximately 698,000 compared with 2014. Wagonloads accounted for 14.27 million of this, which was a 9.1% reduction, or 911,823 units. However, intermodal traffic did improve by 1.6%, or 213,432 TEUs year-on-year to 13.71 million units.

Despite the negative result, AAR's president of policy and economics Mr John T Gray is optimistic heading into 2016.

"Railways can't do much about the macroeconomic environment, but what they have done and are doing is making sure they operate safely and efficiently to maximise their customers' opportunities to grow their own business," he says. "The nation's railways are well positioned to serve their customers in 2016."