For the week ending Aug. 21, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic came in at 501,273 carloads and intermodal units, falling 2.6% from the same week last year, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported on Aug. 25.
Rail volumes for the 33rd week of the year were down 6% compared with the same week in 2019, according to Susquehanna Financial Group (SFG) Analyst Bascome Majors. He also found the four-week trend was up 1% vs. 2020 and down 6% from 2019.
In its Aug. 25 report, AAR said that U.S. Class I railroads moved 230,754 carloads in week 33 (ending Aug. 21, 2021), up 0.4% from the previous-year period; and 270,519 containers and trailers, down 5.1% from 2020. This is the third consecutive week of intermodal losses. (See “Week 32: Carloads Up, Intermodal Down” and “Week 31: Is Intermodal Losing Steam?”)
The association reported that five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020. They included metallic ores and metals, up 4,551 carloads, to 23,522; nonmetallic minerals, up 2,802 carloads, to 33,109; and miscellaneous carloads, up 1,042 carloads, to 10,653. Commodity groups that posted declines compared with the same week in 2020 included grain, down 4,483 carloads, to 18,098; motor vehicles and parts, down 2,513 carloads, to 13,974; and farm products excluding grain, and food, down 1,042 carloads, to 14,906.
For the first 33 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,607,296 carloads, a gain of 8.6% from the same point last year; and 9,213,825 intermodal units, an increase of 13.3% over 2020. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 33 weeks of 2021 was 16,821,121 carloads and intermodal units, rising 11.1% from last year.
North American rail volume for the week ending Aug. 21, 2021, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 324,958 carloads, up 0.6% vs. the same week in 2020, and 359,713 intermodal units, down 3.3% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 684,671 carloads and intermodal units, a 1.5% drop-off. North American rail volume for the first 33 weeks of 2021 was 22,933,975 carloads and intermodal units, a 9.9% gain from 2020.
Canadian railroads reported 74,355 carloads for the week, growing 3.1%, and 73,855 intermodal units, rising 7.4% vs. the previous-year period. For the first 33 weeks of 2021, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,899,749 carloads, containers and trailers, an increase of 6.9%.
Mexican railroads reported 19,849 carloads for the week, a 6.1% decline compared with the same week last year, and 15,339 intermodal units, a 15.2% fall-off. Their cumulative volume for the first 33 weeks of 2021 was 1,213,105 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, a 6% gain over 2020.