‘Carloads Up, Intermodal Down’ Trend Persists in Week 41, AAR

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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For the week ending Oct. 16, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic dropped 4.2% from same week last year, with intermodal losses dragging down carload gains for the 11th consecutive week, according the Association of American Railroads’ Oct. 20 report.

Total carloads for the week ending Oct. 16, 2021, came in at 229,730, rising 1.2% vs. the prior-year period, and intermodal volume was 267,253 containers and trailers, falling 8.5%. Combined, carloads and intermodal units reached 496,983.

The intermodal fall-off spans 11 weeks now. For more on the trend, including rising carloads, see “AAR: No Single Solution to the Intermodal Problem” and “AAR: North American Rail Volume Up 7.6% Through 40 Weeks.”

According to AAR, five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020. They included metallic ores and metals, up 3,471 carloads, to 21,990; chemicals, up 3,000 carloads, to 32,721; and nonmetallic minerals, up 1,157 carloads, to 32,210. Commodity groups that posted declines compared with the same week in 2020 included coal, down 2,493 carloads, to 57,772; motor vehicles and parts, down 2,260 carloads, to 13,374; and miscellaneous carloads, down 798 carloads, to 9,601.

For the first 41 weeks of 2021, U.S. Class I railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,479,190 carloads, gaining 7.6% from the from the same week in 2020; and 11,346,182 intermodal units, increasing 8.9% compared with last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 41 weeks of 2021 was 20,825,372 carloads and intermodal units, an 8.3% boost from 2020.

North American rail volume for the week ending Oct. 16, 2021, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 328,884 carloads, flat (0%) with the same point last year, and 350,015 intermodal units, down 9.4% from 2020. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 678,899 carloads and intermodal units, a drop-off of 5.1%. North American rail volume for the first 41 weeks of 2021 came in at 28,384,736 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.2% compared with last year.

Canadian railroads reported 79,042 carloads for the week, decreasing 1.7%, and 66,873 intermodal units, declining 14.3% vs. the same point in 2020. For the first 41 weeks of 2021, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,078,439 carloads, containers and trailers, increasing 4.4%.

Mexican railroads reported 20,112 carloads for the week, down 5.8% from the same week in 2020, and 15,889 intermodal units, down 3.3%. Their cumulative volume for the first 41 weeks of 2021 was 1,480,925 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, a 3.8% rise compared with the prior-year period.

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