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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Supply chain issues sink October's rail volume total


U.S. railroads logged 2,024,528 carloads and intermodal containers in October, a 2.8% decrease compared with October 2020's level, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

U.S. carload volume climbed 3.8% to 947,013 units during the month, but intermodal volume fell 7.9% to 1,077,515 containers and trailers.

Fifteen of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR each month logged gains compared with October 2020. These included: coal, up 8.3%; chemicals, up 6.7%; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 7.1%.

Commodities that posted declines in October 2021 from October 2020 included: motor vehicles and parts, down 15.3%; grain, 6%; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 6.1%.

"For railroads, the supply chain challenges are being felt most keenly in our intermodal terminals where rail customers have been unable to clear their freight as quickly as they and the railroads would like,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a press release. "The shortages of dray trucks, drivers and warehouse space are significant constraints that drove intermodal volumes down in October."

Railroads are working closely with their customers and supply chain partners to address the challenges, Gray said.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 10 months of the year was 9,956,652 carloads, up 7.5%, and 11,889,623 intermodal units, up 8%, compared with the same period in 2020.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/4/2021