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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

North American freight-rail volume tumbled in Week 2


The U.S. freight-rail traffic slump is continuing, with volume down 9.6 percent to 501,624 carloads and intermodal units during the week ending Jan. 11 compared with the same week in 2019, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

Total carloads for the week fell 10.1 percent to 239,119 units, while intermodal volume declined 9.1 percent to 262,505 containers and trailers.

Three of the 10 carload commodity groups that AAR tracks on a weekly basis posted increases. They were chemicals, up 848 carloads to 33,764; miscellaneous carloads, up 765 carloads to 10,671; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 388 carloads to 14,303.

Commodity groups that logged decreases included coal, down 16,224 carloads to 70,831; grain, down 6,385 carloads to 18,304; and metallic ores and metals, down 3,333 carloads to 21,059.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads also reported traffic declines for the week: Carloads fell 6.3 percent to 79,508 units; and intermodal containers and trailers slipped 3.9 percent to 69,486 units.

However, Mexican railroads reported carload activity rose 3.8 percent to 20,609 units for the week, although intermodal volume dipped 0.2 percent to 18,735 units.

For the first two weeks of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019:
• U.S. railroads reported 915,638 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.6 percent;
• Canadian railroads reported 281,342 carloads, containers and trailers, down 2.4 percent;
• Mexican railroads reported 62,655 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 5 percent; and
• North American rail volume on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 1,259,635 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.4 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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