2017 volumes were mixed to kick off 2017, according to data recently issued by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).U.S. carload traffic was up 2.9 percent, or 28,341 carloads, annually, AAR said. And 9 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR were up, including: coal, up 11.9 percent or 35,798 carloads; grain, up 5.2 percent or 4,570 carloads; and waste and nonferrous scrap, up 20.9 percent or 2,546 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in January 2017 from January 2016 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 19.5 percent or 9,751 carloads; chemicals, down 3.6 percent or 4,456 carloads; and stone, clay and glass products, down 10.9 percent or 2,904 carloads. Excluding coal, carloads were up down 1.1 percent or 7,457 carloads in January 2017 from January 2016.On the intermodal side, U.S. container and trailer movements in January were down 1.8 percent, or 18,553 units, annually.“January rail traffic paints a mixed picture, with some commodities exceeding expectations, while others remained flat or down,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray in a statement. “For most of last year, coal carloads were down sharply, but for the past couple of months, including January, they’ve been the major force behind rail carload gains. We can probably expect continued uncertainty in energy markets going forward, but we’re hopeful that improving macro-economic fundamentals will drive improvement in rail volumes for many commodity categories this year.”For the week ending, January 28, U.S. rail carloads were up 4.3 percent annually at 259,708, and intermodal containers and trailers increases 2.4 percent at 269,988.