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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. freight-rail traffic remains sluggish


U.S. freight railroads hauled 479,137 carloads and intermodal units in the week ending Feb. 15, an 8.6 percent decrease in traffic compared with the same week in 2019, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Total carloads for the week declined 9.1 percent to 227,447 units, while intermodal volume fell 8 percent to 251,690 containers and trailers.

Four of the 10 carload commodity groups that AAR tracks on a weekly basis posted increases. They included petroleum and petroleum products, up 734 carloads, to 12,622; motor vehicles and parts, up 700 carloads, to 17,583; and metallic ores and metals, up 582 carloads, to 20,859.

Commodity groups that logged decreases included coal, down 17,147 carloads, to 63,045; nonmetallic minerals, down 3,614 carloads, to 28,381; and grain, down 2,973 carloads, to 18,325.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported an increase in carloads and Mexican railroads reported increases in both traffic segments for the week.

Canadian railroads hauled 75,421 carloads, up 3.2 percent, and 55,059 intermodal units, down 12.1 percent compared with the same week in 2019. Mexican railroads moved 21,280 carloads, up 1.3 percent, and 18,952 intermodal units, up 9.2 percent.

For the first seven weeks of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019:
• U.S. railroads reported 3,375,279 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.2 percent;
• Canadian railroads posted 988,692 carloads, containers and trailers, down 1.1 percent;
• Mexican railroads logged 260,239 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 10.9 percent; and
• North American railroads combined reported 4,624,210 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.3 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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