Total U.S. rail traffic of 534,607 carloads and intermodal units for the week ending Nov. 21, 2020, kept pace with the same week last year, rising 2.5%, based on a double-digit intermodal gain, according to a Nov. 25 report from the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Total carloads were down 7.2% to 233,478, compared with the same week in 2019, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was up 11.5% to 301,129 containers and trailers, compared with 2019.
We hosted rail industry experts in our third Suds with Seidl event. The overall mood was optimistic. The outlook for 2021 was strong, with one participant noting he was surprised to hear just how bullish his customers were this past week. Class I’s may be missing business opportunities, but there is still hope for greater communication via technology initiatives. We remain positive on the rail group.
As freight transportation providers build up traffic volumes from pandemic-related lows, there remains a strong focus on supply chain visibility among ship operators, railroads and truckers. Additionally, shippers and beneficial cargo owners want better tools to see and track shipments from release to delivery, in the same way consumers track Amazon or UPS shipments. As consumers become more accustomed to better tracking and service standards, these capabilities are needed now at every stage of the transportation and handling process.
In January 2021, Union Pacific’s new Twin Cities Intermodal Terminal in Minneapolis will launch with domestic intermodal service connecting the Twin Cities and Los Angeles, expanding its customers’ reach to key Upper Midwest markets.
Robert Primus and Michelle Schultz, whose confirmation as the fourth and fifth members of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board have been on hold for months, were confirmed by the U.S. Senate late on Nov. 18. They are expected to be sworn in shortly, giving the STB its full complement of five members, a number set by the 2015 Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act.
For the week ending Nov. 14, 2020, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 527,462 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.2% compared with the same week last year, based on a double-digit intermodal gain, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported on Nov. 18. Total carloads were 232,146, down 3.1% compared with the same week in 2019, but U.S. weekly intermodal volume, at 295,316 containers and trailers, rose 12.9% compared to 2019.
Twenty-five years ago, Nov. 17, 1995, the Government of Canada put CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) shares up for sale to investors. At C$2.25 billion, it was the biggest IPO in Canadian history. “At the time, CN was the largest and oldest Crown Corporation in Canada,” CN said in a statement marking the anniversary, which it also celebrated with six road locomotives painted in heritage schemes. “Today, CN is a world-class transportation leader and trade-enabler.”
Five major rail industry companies—Trinity Industries, Norfolk Southern, GATX, Genesee & Wyoming and Watco Cos.—have entered into a joint venture called RailPulse that is “expected to accelerate rail modal transformation through the advancement of GPS technology and other telematics across the North American railcar fleet.”
For the week ending Nov. 7, 2020, a significant gain in intermodal once again surpassed a decline in carloads as the pandemic continued. U.S. rail traffic—522,028 carloads and intermodal units—rose 1.3% compared with the same week last year, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported Nov. 11.
Shades of the battle between CSX and Norfolk Southern that occurred some 25 years ago over Conrail, but on a smaller scale: CSX is in negotiations to acquire Pan Am Railways, the 1,700-mile Class II previously known as the Guilford Rail System, itself the amalgamation of the Boston & Maine, Maine Central, Portland Terminal Company and Springfield Terminal Railway. NS, in a Nov. 6 filing with the Surface Transportation Board, is opposing the transaction.