AAR: U.S. Traffic Downturn 38 Weeks and Counting

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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U.S. rail freight traffic numbers haven’t shown any signs of recovery for nearly nine months, down nearly 4% compared to 2018. Mexican traffic has also dropped, but not as severely as the U.S. On the bright side, Canadian traffic is experiencing at least some growth.

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic or the week ending Sept. 21, 2019, was 528,670 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.8% compared with the same week last year, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported on Sept. 25. Total carloads were 250,794, down 8% compared with the same week in 2018, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 277,876 containers and trailers, down 5.7% compared to 2018. Only one of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2018: chemicals, up 532 carloads, to 32,280. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2018 included coal, down 9,194 carloads to 78,881; grain, down 4,300 carloads, to 19,018; and metallic ores and metals, down 2,122 carloads, to 21,905.

For the first 38 weeks of 2019, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,613,796 carloads, down 3.6% from the same point last year; and 10,111,040 intermodal units, down 4% from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 38 weeks of 2019 was 19,724,836 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 3.8% compared to last year.

Mexican railroads reported 19,241 carloads for the week, down 0.3% compared with the same week last year, and 18,413 intermodal units, up 3.5%. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 38 weeks of 2019 was 1,426,659 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 3.1% from the same point last year.

Canadian railroads reported 81,436 carloads for the week, down 3.9%, and 74,819 intermodal units, down 0.6% compared with the same week in 2018. For the first 38 weeks of 2019, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,766,871 carloads, containers and trailers, up 1.5%.

North American rail volume for the week on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 351,471 carloads, down 6.7% compared with the same week last year, and 371,108 intermodal units, down 4.3% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 722,579 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.5%. North American rail volume for the first 38 weeks of 2019 was 26,918,366 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.7% compared with 2018.

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