Rail Traffic Down Over Recent Weeks

U.S. rail freight traffic last week was down 7 percent from the previous four weeks of this year.

The Association of American Railroads said that for the week ending June 5, 2021, railroads handled 489,144 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 12.9 percent from the same point in 2020.

Total carloads for the week were 227,497, rising 18.1 percent over the same week in 2020. Intermodal volume was 261,647 containers and trailers, an 8.7 percent increase.

AAR continued to note that percentage changes for some rail traffic categories are “inflated.” This is due to the widespread pandemic-related “shutdowns—and subsequent large reduction in rail volumes—that impacted many economic sectors last year at this time.”

Nine of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020.

They included coal, up 16,326 carloads, to 65,101; metallic ores and metals, up 9,915 carloads, to 23,332; and chemicals, up 4,711 carloads, to 32,602.

Losing ground was nonmetallic minerals, which fell 892 carloads, to 29,220.

For the first 22 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,054,790 carloads, an increase of 7.8 percent compared with the same period in 2020.

They handled 6,206,969 intermodal units, a gain of 18.7 percent over 2020.

Total combined traffic for the first 22 weeks of this year was 11,261,759 carloads and intermodal units, a 13.5 percent increase over 2020.

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