Rail Freight Down 2.8% in October

U.S. rail freight traffic in October fell 2.8 percent compared with the same month in 2020.

AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray said a 7.9 percent decline in intermodal volume was largely behind the drop.

“The shortages of dray trucks, drivers and warehouse space are significant constraints that drove intermodal volumes down in October,” Gray said in a statement.

He said railroad shippers have been unable to clear their freight as quickly as they and the railroads would like.

Intermodal volume in October was down 7.9 percent from October 2020. During the month Class I railroads handled 1,077,515 containers and trailers and 947,013.

Carload traffic in October was up 3.8 percent (or 34,510 carloads. Combined intermodal and carload traffic was 2,024,528, down 57,890 carloads and intermodal units compared with October 2020.

Fifteen of AAR’s 20 carload commodity categories posted gains compared with October 2020. These included coal, up 19,783 carloads or 8.3 percent; chemicals, up 8,184 carloads or 6.7 percent; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 5,331 carloads or 7.1 percent.

Declining were motor vehicles and parts, down 9,487 carloads or 15.3 percent; grain, down 6,375 carloads or 6.0 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 2,495 carloads or 6.1 percent.

For the first 10 months of this year carload traffic of 9,956,652 units posted a 7.5 percent gain of 692,732 carloads compared to the same point in 2020.

Railroads have handled 11,889,623 intermodal units, a 8.0 percent increase or 883,962 containers and trailers over 2020. Combined traffic was 21,846,275 carloads and intermodal units, up 7.8 percent.

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