The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ended May 16, 2020, and, for this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 416,115 carloads and intermodal units, down 22% compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ended May 16 were 184,415 carloads, down 30.2% compared with the same week in 2019, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 231,700 containers and trailers, down 14% compared to 2019.
“The 30.2% decline in total U.S. carloads last week was the biggest year-over-year weekly decline for total carloads since 1988, when our data begins,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray.
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 35,879 carloads, to 45,756; motor vehicles and parts, down 14,242 carloads, to 2,865; and metallic ores and metals, down 9,245 carloads, to 14,101.
“Coal didn’t help: last week was the fifth straight week in which coal carloads were down at least 40% from last year,” said Gray. “For many other key rail commodities, including chemicals, petroleum products, and crushed stone and sand, carloads last week were roughly the same as in the previous few weeks, while intermodal originations last week were the most in eight weeks. As the Covid-19 situation continues to evolve across the globe, North America’s freight railroads will remain focused on safeguarding the health and safety of their workforce while working tirelessly to maintain the flow of goods necessary to preserve public health, sustain families and help the economy recover as quickly as the situation allows.”
For the first 20 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,343,145 carloads, down 13.6% from the same point last year; and 4,732,813 intermodal units, down 11.4% from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 20 weeks of 2020 was 9,075,958 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 12.5% compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week ended May 16, 2020, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 263,409 carloads, down 29.2% compared with the same week last year, and 312,917 intermodal units, down 12.3% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 576,326 carloads and intermodal units, down 20.9%. North American rail volume for the first 20 weeks of 2020 was 12,554,512 carloads and intermodal units, down 11% compared with 2019.
Canadian railroads reported 64,416 carloads for the week, down 25.4%, and 66,940 intermodal units, down 3.7% compared with the same week in 2019. For the first 20 weeks of 2020, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,800,429 carloads, containers and trailers, down 6.7%.
Mexican railroads reported 14,578 carloads for the week, down 32.3% compared with the same week last year, and 14,277 intermodal units, down 20.9%. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 20 weeks of 2020 was 678,125 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 7.8% from the same point last year.