Weekly Freight Traffic Continues ‘Repeat’ Cycle

Like a broken record, U.S. rail traffic continues to be stuck on repeat.

For the week ending Oct. 17, the Association of American Railroads said rail traffic was 518,763 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.2 percent compared with the same week last year.

However, carloads at 226,828 were down 7.5 percent compared with the same week in 2019, while intermodal volume was 291,935 containers and trailers, up 11.3 percent.

This pattern of intermodal gains offsetting carload losses has played out for several weeks.

Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted gains when compared with the same week in 2019.

Grain was up 4,920 carloads to 25,547, miscellaneous carloads rose 1,223 carloads to 10,411, and motor vehicles and parts were up 884 carloads, to 15,636.

Posting losses were coal, down 15,084 carloads, to 59,979; nonmetallic minerals, down 4,932 carloads, to 31,058; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 2,429 carloads, to 10,293.

For the first 42 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported a cumulative volume of 9,025,595 carloads, down 14.9 percent from the same point last year; and 10,615,783 intermodal units, down 5.1 percent from last year.

Total combined traffic for the period was 19,641,378 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 9.8 percent compared to last year.

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