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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. rail traffic grows in Week 14, but pandemic affects comparisons


U.S. railroads reported 513, 724 carloads and intermodal units for the week ending April 10, a 24.5% jump from traffic levels in the same week a year ago, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Total carloads for the week were 233,300, up 17.4% compared with the same week in 2020, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume totaled 280,424 containers and trailers, up 31.2%.

For some rail traffic categories, percentage changes for the week compared with the same week in 2020 are inflated because of widespread shutdowns — and subsequent large reduction in rail volumes — due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted many economic sectors last year at this time, AAR officials said in a press release.

Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020. They included motor vehicles and parts, up 9,854 carloads to 12,044; coal, up 9,543 carloads to 62,136; and chemicals, up 4,984 carloads to 33,988. One commodity group posted a decrease compared with the same week in 2020: nonmetallic minerals, down 271 carloads to 31,319.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported 79,509 carloads for the week, up 7.7%, and 75,499 intermodal units, up 14.4%, while Mexican railroads reported 20,421 carloads, up 38.9%, and 16,328 intermodal units, up 62.3%.

For the first 14 weeks of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020:
• Combined U.S. traffic totaled 7,044,367 carloads and intermodal units, up 6.8%;
• Canadian traffic totaled 2,120,832 carloads, containers and trailers, up 6.9 %; and
• Mexican traffic totaled 499,206 carloads, containers and trailers, down 4%.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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