Media Kit » Try RailPrime™ Today! »
Progressive Railroading
Newsletter Sign Up
Stay updated on news, articles and information for the rail industry

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

View Current Digital Issue »


Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends


Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Report: Railroads adapted to volatile pandemic conditions

The researchers found that freight rail kept goods moving while facing supply chain disruptions.
Photo – Shutterstock


The freight-rail industry demonstrated resilience and reliability during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the Northwestern University Transportation Center (NUTC).

Titled "The U.S. Railroads and COVID-19: Keeping Supply Chains Moving," the report shares NUTC's results from analyzing shipment data, reviewing research literature and gathering insights from railroads, intermodal carriers, rail equipment manufacturers, rail-car leasing companies, shippers and major e-commerce companies. It includes contributions from the Association of American Railroads.

NUTC researchers found that freight railroads kept goods moving while facing supply chain disruptions — such as port congestion, chassis shortages and truck freight load rejections — whereas other transportation modes were constrained or delayed.

Rail's role was key in accommodating rapid intermodal traffic growth spurred by the pandemic, which stemmed largely from heightened e-commerce use. The e-commerce industry grew by 70% over the past two decades, the report states.

NUTC's analysis shows that 2020 intermodal rail freight exceeded pre-pandemic expectations, driving third-quarter and fourth-quarter volumes past both 2019 and 2018 levels.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/8/2021