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U.S. freight railroads’ traffic was down 9.5% in January, with decreases reported in both carload and intermodal categories compared with the same month last year, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.
Last month, the railroads hauled 902,265 carloads, down 3% from a year ago, and 1,001,443 containers and trailers, down 14.6%. Combined, U.S. carload and intermodal originations last month totaled 1,903,708 units.
U.S. rail volumes in January were down in most traffic categories, according to AAR Senior Vice President John Gray. However, January 2021 "made for very difficult comparisons for a number of categories," he said.
"For example, January 2021 was the best January for grain since 1990, and was also, at the time, the highest volume month ever for intermodal," said Gray. "Conversely, and more optimistically, this year’s January was the highest volume month ever for rail carloads of chemicals, providing a strong base for future growth in a critical commodity."
Six of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR every month logged carload gains in January 2022. They included: coal, up 5.6%; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 7.2%; and chemicals, up 0.8%.
Commodities that posted declines last month included grain, down 14%; motor vehicles and parts, down 19.8%; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.1%.