U.S. intermodal continued its double-digit growth trend for the week ending April 24, 2021, with a whopping 34.3% gain vs. the prior-year period, according to an Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) April 28 report.
For comparison: The biggest monthly gain ever for intermodal came in March 2021—up 24% over March 2020, noted AAR earlier this month in Rail Time Indicators. That month contained two weeks of 28% gains. March also marked a rail traffic rebound, taking into account last year’s pandemic-related rail volume drop.
For the week ending April 24, 2021, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 538,184 carloads and intermodal units, rising 30% vs. the same week last year. Total carloads came in at 240,075 and intermodal volume reached 298,109 containers and trailers, increasing 25% and 34.3%, respectively, over the same point in 2020.
All 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase for the week ending April 24, 2021, compared with the same week in 2020. They included coal, up 16,126 carloads, to 64,252; motor vehicles and parts, up 9,067 carloads, to 11,302; and chemicals, up 6,759 carloads, to 34,843.
For the first 16 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,622,079 carloads, rising 1.5% from the same period in 2020; and 4,493,689 intermodal units, increasing 16.8% from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 16 weeks of 2021 was 8,115,768 carloads and intermodal units, up 9.4% vs. 2020.
North American rail volume for the week ending April 24, 2021, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 339,075 carloads, a rise of 22.2% compared with the prior-year period, and 386,455 intermodal units, an increase of 27.2% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 725,530 carloads and intermodal units, up 24.8%. North American rail volume for the first 16 weeks of 2021 was 11,115,479 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.4% vs. the 2020 period.
Canadian railroads reported 77,900 carloads for the week, an 8.6% boost, and 71,311 intermodal units, a 2.3% increase compared with the same week in 2020. For the first 16 weeks of 2021, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,424,692 carloads, containers and trailers, up 7.1%.
Mexican railroads reported 21,100 carloads for the week, growing 52.7% vs. the prior-year period, and 17,035 intermodal units, rising 40.5%. Their cumulative volume for the first 16 weeks of 2021 was 575,019 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.6% from the same point last year.