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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. intermodal traffic trend swings upward


U.S. railroads hauled 2,408,479 carloads, containers and trailers in November, a 2.6% increase compared with total November 2022 volume, according to Association of American Railroads data.

Last month, the railroads logged 1,128,573 carloads, down 102 units or 0%, and 1,279,906 containers and trailers, up 60,486 units or 5%, compared with traffic in the same month a year ago.

The 5% increase in intermodal volume last month marked the third straight year-over-year gain after 18 straight declines and the biggest year-over-year percentage gain for intermodal in 29 months, said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a press release.

"Overall, the last week of November had the highest carload plus intermodal volumes in two years,” Gray said. "Much will depend on how the broader economy continues to evolve, but railroads are hopeful November will provide much-needed momentum for the rest of 2023 and into 2024."

Twelve of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month posted carload gains compared with November 2022. They included chemicals, 5.7%; motor vehicles and parts, up 6.6%; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 10.1%.

Commodity categories that posted decreases last month included crushed stone, sand and gravel, down 8%; all other carloads, 25.6%; and grain, down 5.4%.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 11 months of 2023 compared with the same period in 2022 was 10,824,994, up 0.2%, and 11,684,971 intermodal units, down 6%.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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