Week 36: Intermodal Fall-Off Continues

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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Total U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Sept. 11, 2021, was 468,610 carloads and intermodal units, a 1.3% decline from the same point last year, with intermodal losses offsetting carload gains, reported the Association of American Railroads on Sept. 15.

During the 36th week of the year, U.S. Class I railroads moved 223,710 carloads, up 4.5% compared with the prior-year period, and 244,900 containers and trailers, down 6% from 2020.

This is the sixth consecutive week of intermodal losses. (See “North American Rail Freight Up 9.2% Through 35 Weeks: AAR”“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?”)

TRAILING 4-WEEK AVERAGE U.S. CLASS I RAILROAD INTERMODAL VOLUMES SINCE THE END OF 1Q (Chart courtesy of Susquehanna Financial Group. Sources: AAR, company reports, SFG Research)

For the week ending Sept. 11, 2021, the association reported that six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020. They included coal, up 9,749 carloads, to 69,927; metallic ores and metals, up 4,227 carloads, to 22,395; and nonmetallic minerals, up 3,731 carloads, to 30,476. Commodity groups that posted decreases from 2020 included motor vehicles and parts, down 4,862 carloads, to 10,121; grain, down 4,830 carloads, to 16,718; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 558 carloads, to 9,797.

For the first 36 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,293,870 carloads, rising 8.2% vs. 2020; and 9,994,693 intermodal units, gaining 11.5% compared with last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 36 weeks of 2021 came in at 18,288,563 carloads and intermodal units, a 10% increase from last year.

North American rail volume for the week ending Sept. 11, 2021, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 316,174 carloads, climbing 2.4% vs. the same point last year, and 321,752 intermodal units, dropping 7.3% compared with 2020. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 637,926 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.7%. North American rail volume for the first 36 weeks of 2021 was 24,940,735 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.9% from 2020.

Canadian railroads reported 73,214 carloads for the week, a decrease of 5.8%, and 62,820 intermodal units, a fall-off of 11.1% compared with the same week in 2020. For the first 36 weeks of 2021, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,327,242 carloads, containers and trailers, rising 5.9%.

Mexican railroads reported 19,250 carloads for the week, gaining 13.5% from the year-earlier period, and 14,032 intermodal units, dropping 11.2%. Their cumulative volume for the first 36 weeks of 2021 was 1,324,930 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 6% from 2020.

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