AAR Week 50: Traffic Gains Based on Intermodal Strength

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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While intermodal growth continues to lift U.S. weekly rail traffic figures in 2020, carloads are inching closer to what railroads reported in 2019. For the week ending Dec. 12, 2020, total U.S. weekly traffic was 546,209 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9% compared with the same week last year, reported the Association of American Railroads (AAR) on Dec. 16. Total carloads were 238,193, down just 2.2%, and intermodal volume was 308,016 containers and trailers, up 11.1%, compared with 2019.

Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week last year. They included grain, up 7,613 carloads, to 28,390; chemicals, up 1,679 carloads, to 32,591; and farm products excluding grain, and food, up 525 carloads, to 15,978. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2019 were coal, down 8,651 carloads, to 63,777; petroleum and petroleum products, down 2,252 carloads, to 11,485; and metallic ores and metals, down 1,854 carloads, to 20,765.

For the first 50 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,863,948 carloads, a decrease of 13.3% from the same point last year; and 12,946,162 intermodal units, a decline of 2.6% from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 50 weeks of 2020 was 23,810,110 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.8% compared with last year.

North American rail volume for the week ending Dec. 12, 2020, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 344,932 carloads, down 0.2% compared with the same week last year, and 398,504 intermodal units, up 9.0% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 743,436 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5%. North American rail volume for the first 50 weeks of 2020 was 32,766,272 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 7.2% compared with 2019.

Canadian railroads reported 86,457 carloads for the week, up 5.3%, and 75,479 intermodal units, rising 8.5% compared with the same week in 2019. For the first 50 weeks of 2020, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,220,154 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, falling 4.5%.

Mexican railroads reported 20,282 carloads for the week, up 0.9% compared with the same week last year, and 15,009 intermodal units, down 19.4%. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 50 weeks of 2020 was 1,736,008 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 9.8% from the same point last year.

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