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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Week 50: Intermodal still a drag on U.S. rail volume


U.S. railroads logged another carload volume increase, as well as an intermodal volume decrease, during the week ending Dec. 18, according to Association of American Railroads (AAR) data.

U.S. rail traffic for the week totaled 504,099 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.1% compared with the same week in 2020. Carloads reached 234,704 units, up 1.7% increase, while containers and trailers totaled 269,395 units, down 6.9%.

Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by the AAR posted gains, including nonmetallic minerals, up 4,249 carloads to 30,089; coal, up 2,762 carloads to 65,021; and chemicals, up 929 carloads to 34,212.

The commodity groups that posted declines were motor vehicles and parts, down 3,301 carloads to 12,468; grain, down 1,708 carloads to 24,159; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,302 carloads to 10,398.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported 76,466 carloads for the week, down 9.7%, and 65,863 intermodal units, down 9.8%. Mexican railroads logged 20,246 carloads, up 3.3%, and 14,728 intermodal units, up 5%.

For the first 50 weeks of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020:
• U.S. total rail traffic clocked in at 25,336,972 units, up 5.9%;
• Canadian total rail traffic reached 7,323,349 units, up 1%; and
• Mexican total rail traffic climbed to 1,820,084 units, up 4.3%.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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