Rail Traffic Continued Gains Last Week

U.S. carload and intermodal traffic continued to see gains last week in the weekly Association of American Railroads traffic tally.

For the week ending March 13, carload traffic was up  2.1 percent while intermodal volume posted a 22.4 percent gain during the week ending March 13.

In a related development, BNSF Vice President, Consumer Products Tom G. Williams told a congressional hearing on March 10 that December 2020 and January 2021 “were the two largest months in BNSF history for moving volume direct to rail off the ports in Southern California.”

Williams said his company has recalled furloughed employees and pulled railcars and locomotives out of storage to help handle the increased freight demand.

Last week AAR said total carloads were 230,684 while intermodal volume was 290,052 containers and trailers.

The percentage increases were in comparison to the same week in 2020.

Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase vs. the comparable week in 2020.

They included coal, up 8,744 carloads, to 64,102; grain, up 3,958 carloads, to 23,939; and farm products, excluding grain, and food, up 910 carloads, to 16,766.

Seeing declines were motor vehicles and parts, down 4,258 carloads, to 14,829; chemicals, down 3,034 carloads, to 29,971; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,900 carloads, to 11,379.

For the first 10 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,218,117 carloads, a loss of 4.9 percent compared with 2020; and 2,761,908 intermodal units, a gain of 9.9 percent.

Total combined traffic for this year’s first 10 weeks was 4,980,025 carloads and intermodal units, a 2.7 percent increase over last year.

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