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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. rail traffic gains continued in Week 12


For the week ending March 27, U.S. weekly rail traffic totaled 521,731 carloads and intermodal units, up 16.1% compared with the same week last year, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data. 

Comparisons of the current week with the same week in 2020 are inflated because of the widespread economy-wide shutdowns — and subsequent large reduction in rail volumes — that occurred last year at this time, AAR officials said in a press release.

Carloads for the week totaled 232,561, up 6% compared with the same week in 2020, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume totaled 289,170 containers and trailers, up 25.8%.

Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020. They included motor vehicles and parts, grain and metallic ores and metals. 

Commodity groups that posted decreases were chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products and miscellaneous carloads.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported 83,857 carloads for the week, up 4.9%, and 74,756 intermodal units, up 22.2% compared with the same week in 2020. Mexican railroads reported 21,265 carloads for the week, down 6.7%, and 16,124 intermodal units, up 0.8%. 

For the first 12 weeks of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020:

  • U.S. railroads reported volume of 6,015,081 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.5%;
  • Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 1,813,869 carloads, containers and trailers, up 6.2%; and
  • Mexican railroads reported 442,352 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 5.5%.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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