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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR: U.S. rail traffic in May is 'encouraging'


U.S. carload and intermodal originations last month climbed 28% to 2,116,180 units compared with May 2020, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Last month, U.S. railroads hauled 964,356 carloads, up 30.4%, and 1,151,824 containers and trailers, up 26.2%.

Eighteen of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR every month posted carload gains in May compared with a year ago. These included coal, up 41.7%; motor vehicles and parts, up 206.5%; and chemicals, up 20.8%. Commodities that logged declines in May included farm products excluding grain, down 4.9%; and primary forest products, down 1.7%.

Excluding coal, carloads rose 26.6% for the month. Excluding coal and grain, carloads increased 28%.

U.S. rail volumes last month were "encouraging," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a press release.

"Total carloads were the most for any month since October 2019 on a weekly average basis," he said. "In May, 18 of the 20 carload categories we track had carload gains over May 2020, while 12 of the 20 had gains over May 2019. Meanwhile, intermodal just had the best January to May period ever for U.S. railroads. Railroads hope to build on these gains in the months ahead as they help the economy return to strong, sustainable growth."

For the first five months, total U.S. carload traffic was 4,827,293 carloads, up 7.3%, and 5,945,322 intermodal units, up 19.2%.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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