Freight Traffic Continues Double-Digit Gains

U.S. rail freight traffic was up during the week ending April 24 with intermodal showing a whopping double-digit percent gain.

Of course all weekly traffic figures for the next several weeks come with a footnote, namely that they are inflated when compared to a year ago because in 2020 the economy fell into recession in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic and freight traffic fell with it.

Nonetheless, the Association of American Railroads said the largest monthly gain ever for intermodal came in March 2021 when it rose 24 percent over March 2020. Thus far in April there have been two weeks of 28 percent gains.

For the week ending April 24 total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 538,184 carloads and intermodal units, a 30 percent increase over the same week last year.

Total carloads were 240,075 and intermodal was 298,109 containers and trailers, increasing 25 percent and 34.3 percent, respectively, over the same point in 2020.

All 10 carload commodity groups saw increases last week when compared to 2020.

They included coal, up 16,126 carloads, to 64,252; motor vehicles and parts, up 9,067 carloads, to 11,302; and chemicals, up 6,759 carloads, to 34,843.

For the first 16 weeks of 2021, the cumulative volume has been carloads, up 1.5 percent from the same period in 2020; and 4,493,689 intermodal units, up 16.8 percent from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 16 weeks of 2021 was 8,115,768 carloads and intermodal units, up 9.4 percent.

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