For U.S. railroads, it was the first gain in total traffic in a very long time: For the week ending September 5, 2020, a gain of nearly 25% in U.S. intermodal loadings, compared to the 2019 period, more than offset a decline in carload traffic, creating an overall gain approaching 10%, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported Sept. 9. Canadian and Mexican intermodal volumes also rose, driving a North American gain of nearly 21%.
Total U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Sept. 5 was 509,637 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.6% compared with the same week last year. Total carloads were 222,298, down 6.9% compared with the same week in 2019, but weekly intermodal volume was 287,339 containers and trailers, up 24.8%.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2019. They included grain, up 5,630 carloads, to 23,003; motor vehicles and parts, up 1,729 carloads, to 16,296; and miscellaneous carloads, up 1,306 carloads, to 10,038. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2019 included coal, down 18,495 carloads, to 60,842; nonmetallic minerals, down 3,159 carloads, to 29,585; and metallic ores and metals, down 2,396 carloads, to 17,634.
For the first 36 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,670,555 carloads, down 15.8% from the same point last year; and 8,897,816 intermodal units, down 6.9% from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 36 weeks of 2020 was 16,568,371 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 11.3% compared to last year.
North American rail volume for the week on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 319,928 carloads, down 4.8% compared with the same week last year, and 377,841 intermodal units, up 20.8% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 697,769 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.6%. North American rail volume for the first 36 weeks of 2020 was 22,822,410 carloads and intermodal units, down 10.5% compared with 2019.
Canadian railroads reported 78,580 carloads for the week, up 0.7%, and 73,558 intermodal units, up 11.3% compared with the same week in 2019. For the first 36 weeks of 2020, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,011,733 carloads, containers and trailers, down 8.2%.
Mexican railroads reported 19,050 carloads for the week, down 0.9% compared with the same week last year, and 16,944 intermodal units, up 4%. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 36 weeks of 2020 was 1,242,306 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 9.5% from the same point last year.