Winter Weather Depresses Weekly Freight Traffic

Winter weather disruptions last week had a ripple effect on U.S. freight traffic during the week ending Feb. 20.

The Association of American Railroads said that for the week ending Feb. 20 total U.S. rail was 377,904 carloads and containers, a decline of 21.7 percent compared with the same week in 2020.

Carloads, and intermodal containers and trailers alike posted double-digit losses.

Carloads were  171,642, a decline of 26.3 percent while intermodal was 206,262, a fall of 17.4 percent.

It was the first time the weekly intermodal volume had sustained losses compared with the previous year since the week ending Sept. 12, 2020.

It also was the first time since the week of Oct. 3, 2020, that intermodal traffic did not offset losses in carload traffic.

None of the 10 carload commodity groups saw gains in the latest AAR report.

Among the losses were coal, down 14,856 carloads, to 48,745; nonmetallic minerals, down 13,765 carloads, to 16,088; and chemicals, down 9,400 carloads, to 23,864.

For the first seven weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads have handled a cumulative volume of 1,539,758 carloads, a decrease of 6.3 percent from the same point last year.

Railroads have handled 1,917,967 intermodal units, a rise of 6.5 percent from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first seven weeks of 2021 was 3,457,725 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.4 percent vs. last year.

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