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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Strong intermodal volume propped up U.S. rail traffic in Week 10


A healthy dose of intermodal moves helped propel U.S. rail traffic to an overall gain last week.

During the week ending March 9, total U.S. traffic rose 5% year over year to 472,662 units, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Although carloads declined 3.7% to 214,585 units, intermodal volume climbed 13.5% to 258,077 containers and trailers compared with totals from the same week in 2023.

Five of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked weekly by the AAR posted gains, including chemicals, up 6%; petroleum and petroleum products, 16.4%; and metallic ores and metals, 3.8%. Commodity groups that posted decreases included coal, down 13.8%; nonmetallic minerals, -8.6%; and miscellaneous carloads, -8.5%.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported 89,470 carloads for the week, down 1.8% year over year. But their intermodal volume rose 7.2% to 71,752 units. For the week, Mexican railroads reported 17,386 carloads, down 4.3%, and 12,352 intermodal units, up 11%.

Through 2024's first 10 weeks, U.S. railroads registered 4,629,704 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.1%; Canadian railroads logged 1,554,602 carloads, containers and trailers, down 1.9%; and Mexican railroads handled 282,911 carloads and intermodal units, up 8.8% compared with their volumes in the same period last year.

Traffic for 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads through 10 weeks totaled 6,467,217 carloads and intermodal units, up 1.4% year over year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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