U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 19, 2022, came in at 497,822 carloads and intermodal units, rising 31.7% from the same week last year, based on 237,256 carloads—up 38.2% from 2021—and intermodal volume of 260,566 containers and trailers—up 26.3%, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported on Feb. 23.
One reason for the uptick in week 7: No Polar Vortex. “During February , snow and ice covered wide swaths of the country, including many areas that rarely see harsh winter weather, wreaking havoc on all forms of transportation, including rail,” AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray said on March 3, 2021. “In fact, total U.S. rail carloads in the third week of February  were the lowest for any week in AAR’s records that go back to 1988.”
For week 7 of 2021 (ending Feb. 21), U.S. Class I railroads hauled a total of 377,904 carloads and containers, down 21.7% from 2020, according to AAR. Carloads came in at 171,642 (down 26.3%), and intermodal containers and trailers at 206,262 (down 17.4%).
Week Ending Feb. 19, 2022
All of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase for the week, compared with same point in 2021. They included coal, up 22,547 carloads, to 71,293; nonmetallic minerals, up 12,464 carloads, to 28,554; and chemicals, up 11,451 carloads, to 35,305.
For the first seven weeks of 2022, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,594,264 carloads, increasing 3.6% from the same point last year; and 1,769,900 intermodal units, declining 7.7% from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first seven weeks of 2022 was 3,364,164 carloads and intermodal units, dipping 2.7% vs. 2021.
North American rail volume for the week ending Feb. 19, 2022, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 332,995 carloads, jumping 29.3% compared with the same week last year, and 341,516 intermodal units, a boost of 19.2% from last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 674,511 carloads and intermodal units, up 24.0%. North American rail volume for the first seven weeks of 2022 was 4,554,231 carloads and intermodal units, a 4.2% fall-off from 2021.
Canadian railroads reported 74,320 carloads for the week, a 9.2% gain, and 64,704 intermodal units, a 1.3% increase vs. the same week in 2021. For the first seven weeks of 2022, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 932,095 carloads, containers and trailers, dropping 10.0%.
Mexican railroads reported 21,419 carloads for the week, increasing 19.4% from the same week in 2021, and 16,246 intermodal units, dipping 0.5%. Their cumulative volume for the first seven weeks of 2022 was 257,972 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 0.9% from the prior-year period.