U.S. Rail Traffic Still Below 2021 Levels

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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For the week ending April 9, 2022, total U.S. rail traffic was down 1.0% from the same week last year; carloads came in 1.4% higher while intermodal volume dipped 3.1%, according to the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) April 13 report.

U.S. Class I railroads hauled a total of 508,343 carloads and intermodal units—comprising 236,459 carloads and 271,884 containers and trailers—for the week ending April 9, 2022.

It is the seventh consecutive week that traffic has declined.

Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2021, according to AAR. They included coal, up 3,519 carloads, to 65,725; motor vehicles and parts, up 1,320 carloads, to 13,352; and chemicals, up 1,185 carloads, to 35,152. Commodity groups that posted decreases included petroleum and petroleum products, down 2,107 carloads, to 9,319; metallic ores and metals, down 1,753 carloads, to 20,711; and miscellaneous carloads, down 551 carloads, to 9,808.

For the first 14 weeks of 2022, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,223,599 carloads, a 2.5% increase from the prior-year period; and 3,641,782 intermodal units, a 6.6% drop from 2021. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 14 weeks of 2022 was 6,865,381 carloads and intermodal units, falling 2.5% from last year.

North American rail volume for the week ending April 9, 2022, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 337,598 carloads, up 0.9% vs. the same point last year, and 363,293 intermodal units, down 2.6% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 700,891 carloads and intermodal units, dipping 1%. North American rail volume for the first 14 weeks of 2022 was 9,314,334 carloads and intermodal units, decreasing 3.7% from 2021.

Canadian railroads reported 78,850 carloads for the week, down 0.9%, and 75,535 intermodal units, up 0.2% compared with the prior-year period. For the first 14 weeks of 2022, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,936,407 carloads, containers and trailers, dropping 8.8%.

Mexican railroads reported 22,289 carloads for the week, a 1.8% boost over the same week last year, and 15,874 intermodal units, a 7.2% drop-off. Their cumulative volume for the first 14 weeks of 2022 was 512,546 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 2.2% from 2021.

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