The Association of American Railroads now has 44 weeks of rail traffic data for 2021 (ending Nov. 6). Total carload and intermodal traffic grew 6.5% in North America—rising 7.5% in the U.S., 3.7% in Canada, and 4.0% in Mexico from the same point last year.
This is a decline from the first 40 weeks of 2021 (ending Oct. 9), when total traffic (carload and intermodal) climbed 7.6% in North America—up 8.7% in the U.S., 4.7% in Canada, and 4.1% in Mexico vs. 2020.
For the week ending Nov. 6, 2021, total U.S. weekly rail traffic came in at 504,111 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.5% compared with the same week in 2020, AAR reported on Nov. 10. U.S. Class I railroads moved 235,585 carloads, increasing 3.1% from the prior-year period; and 268,526 containers and trailers, dropping 8.6% compared with last year.
Intermodal volume has been down for 14 consecutive weeks. (For more, see “AAR: Rails Feeling Supply Chain Challenges ‘Most Keenly’ in Terminals.”)
According to AAR, five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020. They included coal, up 7,624 carloads, to 66,745; metallic ores and metals, up 3,486 carloads, to 21,039; and chemicals, up 1,178 carloads, to 33,780. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2020 included motor vehicles and parts, down 3,204 carloads, to 11,946; grain, down 2,039 carloads, to 25,386; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 413 carloads, to 10,010.
For the first 44 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,192,237 carloads, a 7.4% gain from the year-earlier period; and 12,158,149 intermodal units, a 7.6% increase from 2020. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 44 weeks of 2021 was 22,350,386 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.5% from last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Nov. 6, 2021, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads came in at 334,304 carloads, rising 2% compared with the same week in 2020, and 356,154 intermodal units, falling 7.8% from last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 690,458 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.3%. North American rail volume for the first 44 weeks of 2021 was 30,478,642 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.5% vs. 2020.
Canadian railroads reported 79,368 carloads for the week, a 0.8% increase, and 73,447 intermodal units, a 5.6% decline compared with the same week in 2020. For the first 44 weeks of 2021, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,530,220 carloads, containers and trailers, a 3.7% boost.
Mexican railroads reported 19,351 carloads for the week, decreasing 6.3% compared with the same week in 2020, and 14,181 intermodal units, dropping 2.4%. Their cumulative volume for the first 44 weeks of 2021 was 1,598,036 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 4% from last year.