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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. freight-rail traffic fell 4.5% in November


U.S. railroads logged 1,945,826 carloads, containers and trailers in November, a 4.5% decrease compared with the same period in 2020, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

The decrease in total traffic last month was primarily due to lower intermodal volume. U.S. railroads moved 917,787 carloads, a 2% increase, and 1,028,039 containers and trailers, down 9.6%, in November.

Twelve of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with November 2020. They include coal, up 20,731 carloads or 8.6%; chemicals, up 5,563 carloads or 4.4%; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 5,067 carloads or 7.4%.

Commodities that registered declines last month included motor vehicles and parts, down 8,186 carloads or 14.1%; grain, down 7,901 carloads or 7.4%; and all other carloads, down 3,355 carloads or 14.6%.

"Fifteen of the 20 carload categories we track have seen year-to-date carload increases on U.S. railroads through November," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a press release. "Coal leads the way, with carloads up more than 11%, or nearly 306,000 carloads, mainly because the price of natural gas to electricity generators has doubled since the beginning of the year."

Chemicals, grain and commodities related to steelmaking also logged "solid carload growth this year," Gray said.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 11 months of 2021 was 10,874,439 units, up 7%, and 12,917,662 intermodal units, up 6.4%, compared with the same period in 2020.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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