AAR: “Railroads Have Experience Weathering Difficult Times, and They’ll Weather This One”

Written by Andrew Corselli, Managing Editor
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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ended May 9, 2020, and, for this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 412,549 carloads and intermodal units, down 22.1% compared with the same week last year; total carloads were 185,144 carloads, down 28.4% compared with the same week in 2019; and U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 227,405 containers and trailers, down 16% compared to 2019.

None of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2019. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2019 included commodities such as coal, down 34,111 carloads, to 46,515; motor vehicles and parts, down 14,876 carloads, to 2,108; and metallic ores and metals, down 7,513 carloads, to 13,624.

Despite the declines, AAR is confident that the rail industry will prevail.

“Last week was similar to recent weeks, in that the vast majority of rail traffic categories saw similar large year-over-year volume declines,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “As in the prior two weeks, autos, coal and steel saw especially big declines last week. In terms of total carloads, last week was the second lowest since our data began in 1988. Railroads have lots of experience weathering difficult times, and they’ll weather this one. That said, they’re hopeful that the efforts now underway to find effective ways to combat the pandemic will bear fruit and our economy can first recover and then return to growth mode.”

For the first 19 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,158,730 carloads, down 12.7% from the same point last year; and 4,501,113 intermodal units, down 11.2% from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 19 weeks of 2020 was 8,659,843 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 11.9% compared to last year.

North American rail volume for the week ending May 9, 2020, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 266,647 carloads, down 27.2% compared with the same week last year, and 309,826 intermodal units, down 13.8% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 576,473 carloads and intermodal units, down 20.5%. North American rail volume for the first 19 weeks of 2020 was 11,978,186 carloads and intermodal units, down 10.4% compared with 2019.

Canadian railroads reported 67,481 carloads for the week, down 21.1%, and 69,234 intermodal units, down 0.9% compared with the same week in 2019. For the first 19 weeks of 2020, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,669,073 carloads, containers and trailers, down 6.2%.

Mexican railroads reported 14,022 carloads for the week, down 36.1% compared with the same week last year, and 13,187 intermodal units, down 29.8%. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 19 weeks of 2020 was 649,270 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 6.7% from the same point last year.

Categories: Class I, Freight, Freight Forecasting, Intermodal, News, Short Lines & Regionals Tags: , ,