Rail Freight Continued ‘Inflated’ Gains Last Week

U.S. rail freight traffic for the week ending April 17 was up 32.2 percent when compared to the same week in 2020.

The Association of American Railroads said railroads last week hauled 533,217 carloads and intermodal units.

Those broke down to 237,607 carloads and 295,610 intermodal units, an increase of 25.2 percent and 38.3 percent respectively over the same week last year.

It was the fifth consecutive week, AAR said, that the percentage changes for some rail traffic categories were “inflated” due to pandemic-related “shutdowns—and subsequent large reduction in rail volumes—that affected many economic sectors last year at this time.”

Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups saw gains compared with the same week in 2020. This included coal, up 13,166 carloads, to 61,600; motor vehicles and parts, up 10,606 carloads, to 12,549; and metallic ores and metals, up 7,533 carloads, to 24,803.

Losing ground last week was petroleum and petroleum products, down 120 carloads, to 10,829.

For the first 15 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads have handled a cumulative volume of 3,382,004 carloads for the first 15 weeks of 2021.

This is up 0.2 percent from the comparable 2020 period.

The traffic breakdown for 2021 includes 4,195,580 intermodal units for the first 15 weeks of the year, a 15.7 percent increase from 2020.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the period was 7,577,584 carloads and intermodal units, rising 8.2 percent compared with last year.

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