North American Rail Freight Up 9.2% Through 35 Weeks: AAR

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) now has 35 weeks of traffic data for 2021. Total traffic (carload and intermodal) rose 9.2% in North America—climbing 10.3% in the U.S., 6.3% in Canada, and 6.1% in Mexico from the same point last year.

For the week ending Sept. 4, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic came in at 494,415 carloads and intermodal units, down 3% compared with the same week in 2020. U.S. Class I railroads moved 228,203 carloads, up 2.6% vs. the prior-year period; and 266,212 containers and trailers, down 7.3% compared with 2020. This is the fifth consecutive week of intermodal losses. (See “AAR: Railroads Working to Keep Network ‘Fluid’”; “Week 33: Carloads, Intermodal Drop”“Week 32: Carloads Up, Intermodal Down”; and “Week 31: Is Intermodal Losing Steam?”)

Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with 2020. They included coal, up 5,824 carloads, to 66,950; metallic ores and metals, up 5,151 carloads, to 22,768; and nonmetallic minerals, up 2,680 carloads, to 32,281. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2020 were grain, down 6,211 carloads, to 16,711; motor vehicles and parts, down 3,866 carloads, to 12,421; and farm products excluding grain, and food, down 5 carloads, to 15,342.

For the first 35 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,070,160 carloads, increasing 8.3% from last year; and 9,749,793 intermodal units, climbing 12.1%. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 35 weeks of 2021 was 17,819,953 carloads and intermodal units, a boost of 10.3% over last year.

North American rail volume for the week ending Sept. 4, 2021, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 320,047 carloads, up 0.4% compared with the same week last year, and 350,744 intermodal units, down 6.8% from 2020. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 670,791 carloads and intermodal units, a 3.5% drop. North American rail volume for the first 35 weeks of 2021 was 24,302,809 carloads and intermodal units, a 9.2% gain over 2020.

Canadian railroads reported 73,855 carloads for the week, falling 6.3%, and 71,171 intermodal units, declining 3.1% vs. the same week in 2020. For the first 35 weeks of 2021, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,191,208 carloads, containers and trailers, up 6.3%.

Mexican railroads reported 17,989 carloads for the week, rising 2.7% from the same point last year, and 13,361 intermodal units, decreasing 13.2%. Their cumulative volume for the first 35 weeks of 2021 was 1,291,648 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, a 6.1% jump over 2020.

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