Intermodal gains mostly offset carload declines for U.S. and North American freight rail traffic for the week ending Sept. 19, 2020, reducing the weekly decline to less than 2%, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported on Sept. 23. Traffic for the year’s first 38 weeks was still down significantly compared to 2019, however.
For week 38, total U.S. rail traffic was 521,956 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.3% compared with the same week last year. Total carloads were 226,687, down 9.6% compared with the same week in 2019, while U.S. intermodal volume was 295,269 containers and trailers, up 6.3% compared to 2019.
Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2019. They were grain, up 3,059 carloads, to 22,130; motor vehicles and parts, up 1,539 carloads, to 17,610; and farm products excluding grain, and food, up 733 carloads, to 15,471. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2019 included coal, down 17,305 carloads, to 61,456; nonmetallic minerals, down 6,001 carloads, to 30,609; and metallic ores and metals, down 2,360 carloads, to 19,543.
For the first 38 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 8,111,384 carloads, down 15.6% from the same point last year; and 9,453,728 intermodal units, down 6.5% from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 38 weeks of 2020 was 17,565,112 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 10.9% compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads was 713,047 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.4%. This included 327,915 carloads, down 6.9% compared with the same week last year, and 385,132 intermodal units, up 3.7% compared with last year. North American rail volume for the first 38 weeks of 2020 was 24,193,753 carloads and intermodal units, down 10.2% compared with 2019.
Canadian railroads reported 82,891 carloads for the week, up 1.3%, and 74,331 intermodal units, down 0.5% compared with the same week in 2019. For the first 38 weeks of 2020, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,316,735 carloads, containers and trailers, down 7.9%.
Mexican railroads reported 18,337 carloads for the week, down 6.5% compared with the same week last year, and 15,532 intermodal units, down 17.2%. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 38 weeks of 2020 was 1,311,906 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 9.7% from the same point last year.