AAR: U.S. Rail Traffic Dips in Week 42

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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For the week ending Oct. 23, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic was down 2.3% from the same point last year, as carload gains were cut by intermodal losses, the Association of American Railroads’ reported on Oct. 20.

U.S. Class I railroads moved 239,195 carloads for the week ending Oct. 23, 2021, up 5.1% compared with the same week in 2020; and 271,567 containers and trailers, down 8% vs. 2020. Combined, carloads and intermodal units reached 510,762.

Intermodal volume has been down for 12 consecutive weeks. (For more details, see “AAR: No Single Solution to the Intermodal Problem”; “For UP, BNSF, California Ports, New Measures to Restore Supply Chain Fluidity”; and “Mediocre Performance—While Expecting Superior Results?”)

Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase from the same week last year. They included coal, up 8,175 carloads, to 65,712; metallic ores and metals, up 2,537 carloads, to 23,192; and miscellaneous carloads, up 1,537 carloads, to 11,036. Commodity groups that posted declines from the same week in 2020 were motor vehicles and parts, down 2,057 carloads, to 13,403; petroleum and petroleum products, down 623 carloads, to 9,544; and grain, down 138 carloads, to 25,857.

For the first 42 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,718,385 carloads, rising 7.5% compared with the prior-year period; and 11,617,749 intermodal units, increasing 8.5% vs. 2020. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 42 weeks of 2021 was 21,336,134 carloads and intermodal units, an 8% boost from last year.  

North American rail volume for the week ending Oct. 23, 2021, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 337,884 carloads, a 2.4% gain from the same week last year, and 358,101 intermodal units, an 8.3% drop from last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 695,985 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.4%. North American rail volume for the first 42 weeks of 2021 was 29,080,721 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.9% compared with 2020.

Canadian railroads reported 78,908 carloads for the week, falling 2%, and 70,889 intermodal units, decreasing 11.1% compared with the same week in 2020. For the first 42 weeks of 2021, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,228,236 carloads, containers and trailers, climbing 4.1%.

Mexican railroads reported 19,781 carloads for the week, dipping 10.2% from the prior-year period, and 15,645 intermodal units, falling 1.3%. Their cumulative volume for the first 42 weeks of 2021 was 1,516,351 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, a 3.6% gain from the same point last year.

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