AAR: “Reasonable to Expect Losses to Begin Their Return After Coronavirus Passes”

Written by Andrew Corselli
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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ended April 25, 2020, and, for this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 414,123 carloads and intermodal units, down 22.4% compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ended April 25 were 192,110 carloads, down 28.2% compared with the same week in 2019, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 222,013 containers and trailers, down 16.5% compared to 2019. AAR attributes the declines to the coronavirus.

“With most of the country still firmly locked down, rail volumes are predictably down,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Last week, coal accounted for more than 40% of the year-over-year decline in total carloads. Coal’s decline is due to long-term structural shifts in electricity markets made worse by the coronavirus. For most other commodities seeing big carload declines—including motor vehicles, steel, ethanol, petroleum products and more—the coronavirus clearly bears substantial blame during the last few weeks. It’s reasonable to expect rail carload losses derived directly from the virus to begin their return after the crisis passes and as the economy gradually recovers.”

One of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2019. It was miscellaneous carloads, up 151 carloads, to 10,021. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2019 included commodities such as coal, down 32,853 carloads, to 48,128; motor vehicles and parts, down 13,562 carloads, to 2,235; and metallic ores and metals, down 7,572 carloads, to 17,496.

For the first 17 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,784,396 carloads, down 10.7% from the same point last year; and 4,045,944 intermodal units, down 10.7% from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 17 weeks of 2020 was 7,830,340 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 10.7% compared to last year.

North American rail volume for the week ending April 25, 2020, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 279,228 carloads, down 26.1% compared with the same week last year, and 305,522 intermodal units, down 13.9% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 584,750 carloads and intermodal units, down 20.2%. North American rail volume for the first 17 weeks of 2020 was 10,821,127 carloads and intermodal units, down 9.2% compared with 2019.

Canadian railroads reported 71,689 carloads for the week, down 19.7%, and 69,898 intermodal units, down 2.4% compared with the same week in 2019. For the first 17 weeks of 2020, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,394,855 carloads, containers and trailers, down 5.2%.

Mexican railroads reported 15,429 carloads for the week, down 26.1% compared with the same week last year, and 13,611 intermodal units, down 22.6%. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 17 weeks of 2020 was 595,932 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 3.6% from the same point last year.

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