AAR: Nearing Mid-Year, Carloads, Intermodal Up

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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For the week ending June 12, 2021, total U.S. carloads were 241,628, up 21.8% from the same week in 2020, and all 10 commodity groups tracked posted an increase, the Association of American Railroads reported on June 16.

Coming in at 288,007 containers and trailers, U.S. weekly intermodal volume grew 14.8% compared with the previous-year period.

Total U.S. rail traffic for the week was 529,635 carloads and intermodal units, up 17.9% vs. 2020.

For comparison, following are the U.S. weekly rail traffic figures for the past four weeks:
•  For the week ending June 5, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic was 489,144 carloads and intermodal units (up 12.9% from the same point in 2020), with 227,497 carloads (rising 18.1% from 2020) and 261,647 containers and trailers (increasing 8.7% from 2020).
• For the week ending May 29, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic came in at 530,225 carloads and intermodal units (a 34% gain over the prior-year period), including 243,304 carloads (up 35.3% vs. 2020) and 286,921 intermodal units (up 33% vs. 2020).
• For the week ending May 22, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic was 528,774 (up 23.4% from the same point in 2020), with 242,227 carloads (a 27.2% increase) and 286,547 containers and trailers (a 20.4% boost).
• For the week ending May 15, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic was 533,872 (up 28.3% from the same week last year), including 242,806 carloads (up 31.6%) and 291,066 intermodal containers and trailers (up 25.6%).

(For a 2020 traffic roundup, see “AAR: ‘Railroads Looking to the Future.’”)

AAR’s June 16, 2021 report noted that percentage changes for some rail traffic categories for the current week (ending June 12) are “inflated.” This is due to the widespread pandemic-related “shutdowns—and subsequent large reduction in rail volumes—that impacted many economic sectors last year at this time.” The association first included this statement in its March 24, 2021 report, when it provided data on week 11 (ending March 20), marking one year of COVID-19-related traffic disruption.

For the week ending June 12, 2021, all 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020. They included coal, up 19,229 carloads, to 69,263; metallic ores and metals, up 8,242 carloads, to 22,789; and chemicals, up 5,489 carloads, to 32,967.

For the first 23 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,296,418 carloads, an 8.3% increase from the comparable period last year; and 6,494,976 intermodal units, an 18.5% rise over last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 23 weeks was 11,791,394 carloads and intermodal units, a 13.7% boost from 2020.  

North American rail volume for the week ending June 12, 2021, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 338,783 carloads, up 16.2% compared with the same point in 2020, and 377,780 intermodal units, up 14.5% vs. last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 716,563 carloads and intermodal units, up 15.3%. North American rail volume for the first 23 weeks of the year was 16,106,255 carloads and intermodal units, up 12.2% compared with 2020.

Canadian railroads reported 75,753 carloads for the week, increasing 4.9%, and 73,492 intermodal units, rising 14.3% vs. the prior-year period. For the first 23 weeks of 2021, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,486,918 carloads, containers and trailers, a 9% boost.

Mexican railroads reported 21,402 carloads for the week, up 2.8% vs. the same point last year, and 16,281 intermodal units, up 9.1%. Their cumulative volume for the first 23 weeks of 2021 was 827,943 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 4.7% compared with the 2020 period.

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