Total U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 10, 2021 rose 24.5% over the prior-year period, according to an Association of American Railroads (AAR) report released April 14.
For the 14th week of 2021, there was a total of 513,724 carloads and intermodal units, with carloads coming in at 233,300, a 17.4% increase vs. the same week in 2020, and U.S. weekly intermodal volume coming in at 280,424 containers and trailers, a 31.2% increase.
It is the fourth consecutive week that AAR explained: “For some rail traffic categories, percentage changes for the current week compared with the same week in 2020 are inflated because of the widespread shutdowns—and subsequent large reduction in rail volumes—that impacted many economic sectors last year at this time.” (Week 11, ending March 20, 2021, marked one year of pandemic-related traffic disruption.)
Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020, including: motor vehicles and parts, up 9,854 carloads, to 12,044; coal, up 9,543 carloads, to 62,136; and chemicals, up 4,984 carloads, to 33,988. One commodity group posted a decline vs. the same week in 2020: nonmetallic minerals, down 271 carloads, to 31,319.
For the first 14 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,144,397 carloads, falling 1.3% from the same point last year; and 3,899,970 intermodal units, rising 14.3% from 2020. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 14 weeks was 7,044,367 carloads and intermodal units, a 6.8% increase from last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending April 10, 2021, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 333,230 carloads, up 16% compared with the same week last year, and 372,251 intermodal units, up 28.4% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 705,481 carloads and intermodal units, up 22.2%. For the first 14 weeks of the year, North American rail volume was 9,664,405 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.2% vs. 2020.
Canadian railroads reported 79,509 carloads for the week, a rise of 7.7%, and 75,499 intermodal units, an increase of 14.4% compared with the same week in 2020. For the first 14 weeks of 2021, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 2,120,832 carloads, containers and trailers, rising 6.9%.
Mexican railroads reported 20,421 carloads for the week, up 38.9% from the same point last year, and 16,328 intermodal units, up 62.3%. Their cumulative volume for the first 14 weeks of 2021 was 499,206 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 4% compared with the same week in 2020.