Through the first 36 weeks of 2023 (ending Sept. 9), total North American carload and intermodal traffic decreased 4.1% from the prior-year period, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported Sept. 13. Both the U.S. and Canada experienced declines, while Mexico saw a gain.
North American rail volume for the first 36 weeks of this year (ending Sept. 9) on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads was 23,304,320 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers. Cumulative volume in the U.S. came in at 16,620,897 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.8% from 2022; in Canada, 5,674,192 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.4%; and in Mexico, 1,009,231 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.7%.
For the week ending Sept. 9, 2023, U.S. Class I railroads moved a total of 447,345 carloads and intermodal units, dipping 1.7% from the same point last year, according to the AAR. This comprises 218,101 carloads—up 0.6% from 2022—and 229,244 containers and trailers—down 3.8% compared with last year.
Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2022. They included motor vehicles and parts, up 1,585 carloads, to 14,913; petroleum and petroleum products, up 1,416 carloads, to 9,734; and coal, up 866 carloads, to 68,367. Commodity groups that posted declines included grain, down 2,427 carloads, to 14,626; nonmetallic minerals, down 679 carloads, to 30,163; and forest products, down 514 carloads, to 7,840.
For the first 36 weeks of 2023, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,071,215 carloads, a 0.1% rise from the same point last year; and 8,549,682 intermodal units, a 9.0% fall-off from last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Sept. 9, 2023, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 323,563 carloads, flat with the same week last year, and 305,358 intermodal units, down 6.0% from last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 628,921 carloads and intermodal units, a 3.0% drop-off.
Canadian railroads reported 89,460 carloads for the week ending Sept. 9, 2023, up 0.5%, and 64,914 intermodal units, down 13.2% vs. the year-earlier period.
For the week ending Sept. 9, 2023, Mexican railroads reported 16,002 carloads, dropping 9.4% from the same point last year, and 11,200 intermodal units, decreasing 4.3%.