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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. railroads moved fewer carloads, intermodal units in May


U.S. railroads hauled 2,031,300 carloads, containers and trailers last month, a 4% decrease compared with May 2021 volumes, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported yesterday.

Carloads declined 3.7% to 928,742 units, while intermodal volume fell 4.3% to 1,102,558 containers and trailers versus a year ago.

May’s rail traffic numbers reflect an economy that's both good and "not so good," said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a press release.

"Auto production and auto carloads seem to be slowly recovering; crushed stone, sand and food-related volumes are showing strength, while intermodal had its best month since June 2021," Gray said. "On the other hand, carloads of chemicals fell for the first time in more than a year in May, while grain volumes continued to be disappointing when compared to those of 2021 and the latter half of 2020."

Last month, seven of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month posted gains. They included crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 5.8%; motor vehicles and parts, up 9%; and food products, up 7.1%.

Commodities that logged declines included grain, down 13.5%; primary metal products, down 15.3%; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 13.5%. Excluding coal, carloads fell 4.3% during the month. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 2.8%.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 21 weeks of 2022 was 10,391,312 carloads and intermodal units, a 3.5% decrease compared with volumes in the same period a year ago.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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