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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends
AAR: Coronavirus impact reflected in intermodal traffic volume
U.S. freight railroads logged 462,303 carloads and intermodal units during the week ending March 7, down 9.1 percent compared with the same week in 2019, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.
Railroads moved 229,742 carloads during the week, down 3.5 percent, and 232,561 containers and trailers, down 14.1 percent.
Although AAR Senior Vice President John Gray urged caution when comparing rail traffic from one week to the another, he also noted that the sharp decline in rail intermodal loadings was more noticeable than the norm over the past year.
"With the number of ships arriving at West Coast ports from Asia down sharply due to the coronavirus, it stands to reason that railroads are beginning to feel an impact too, at least in terms of intermodal. It’s impossible to quantify that impact with precision," Gray said.
Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups that AAR tracks on a weekly basis posted increases during the week. They included chemicals, up 2,050 carloads, to 33,419; petroleum and petroleum products, up 1,984 carloads, to 12,641; and grain, up 1,731 carloads, to 20,863.
The two commodity groups that logged decreases were coal, down 17,877 carloads to 58,659; and metallic ores and metals, down 190 carloads to 19,672.
Meanwhile, Canadian railroads posted 83,886 carloads for the week, up 10.8 percent, and 64,025 intermodal units, down 5.3 percent. Mexican railroads reported 19,740 carloads, down 9.6 percent, and 17,114 intermodal units, down 3 percent.
For the first 10 weeks of 2020 compared with the same period a year ago:
• U.S. railroads reported a combined 4,798,586 carloads and intermodal units, down 7 percent;
• Canadian railroads reported 1,407,515 carloads, containers and trailers, down 1.5 percent;
• Mexican railroads reported 372,894 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 5.4 percent; and
• North American railroads combined reported 6,578,995 carloads and intermodal units, down 5.2 percent.
Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.