AAR: U.S. Rail Traffic Sees Gain—But It’s Just Timing

Written by Andrew Corselli, Managing Editor
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The 47th time certainly looks like a charm, but don’t get your hopes up.

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ended Nov. 23, 2019, and for the first time in a long time, traffic saw a healthy uptick. However, Week 47 in 2018 was an early Thanksgiving week in which traffic was normally down. Thus, Week 47’s gain is artificial, a circumstance of timing, a “turkey.”

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 521,927 carloads and intermodal units, up 10.6% compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ended Nov. 23 were 251,901 carloads, up 7.6% compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 270,026 containers and trailers, up 13.5% compared to 2018.

Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018. They included commodities such as nonmetallic minerals, up 7,573 carloads, to 33,069; chemicals, up 3,972 carloads, to 31,834; and motor vehicles and parts, up 3,625 carloads, to 17,757. One commodity group posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2018: coal, down 6,205 carloads, to 75,859.

For the first 47 weeks of 2019, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 11,829,176 carloads, down 4.2% from the same point last year; and 12,519,862 intermodal units, down 4.3% from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 47 weeks of 2019 was 24,349,038 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 4.2% compared to last year.

North American rail volume for the week ended Nov. 23, 2019, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 342,235 carloads, up 1.3% compared with the same week last year, and 351,821 intermodal units, up 8.6% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 694,056 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9%. North American rail volume for the first 47 weeks of 2019 was 33,234,029 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.3% compared with 2018.

Canadian railroads reported 70,768 carloads for the week, down 16.4%, and 65,247 intermodal units, down 5.4% compared with the same week in 2018. For the first 47 weeks of 2019, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,108,842 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.0%.

Mexican railroads reported 19,566 carloads for the week, up 3% compared with the same week last year, and 16,548 intermodal units, down 4%. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 47 weeks of 2019 was 1,776,149 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 2.6% from the same point last year.

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