Posts Tagged ‘Association of American Railroads’

CSX 2nd in 2021 Traffic Growth

January 7, 2022

CSX ranked second among Class 1 railroad systems in traffic growth in 2021, Trains magazine reported on its website this week.

The Jacksonville-based carrier reported that its traffic was up 6.6 percent when compared with calendar year 2020.

Among the gains were double digit increases in intermodal and coal traffic.

Norfolk Southern posted a 5.6 percent traffic gain in 2021 fueled by a 3 percent rise in intermodal traffic and a 14 percent increase in coal traffic.

BNSF led all Class I systems in traffic growth at 7.4 percent.

The data is based on information kept by the Association of American Railroads, which said rail traffic increased overall by 5.7 percent.

The article can be viewed at

Rail Freight Traffic Up 5.7% in 2021

January 6, 2022

Intermodal traffic faced many challenges during 2021 but still finished the year posting the second-best volume since the Association of American Railroad began tracking freight traffic.

AAR said intermodal volume last year trailed only 2018.

However, it was a tale of two halves with intermodal traffic setting records in the first half of 2021 only to lose ground in the second half due to global supply chain issues that saw shipping containers languishing in railroad yards, on siding, and aboard ships docked off shore of ports.

In December, intermodal traffic was 8.2 percent below the same month in 2020 with Class 1 railroads handling 1,224,780 containers and trailers, a decline of 109,729 units

AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray noted that chemical traffic set a record in 2021 and grain traffic had its best year since 2008.

Coal traffic, which in recent years has been in a steady decline, was up significantly last year as sharp increases in natural gas prices temporarily at least sent power generating facilities seeking another source of fuel.

A shortage of microchips, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain congestion, worked to depress auto traffic in 2021.

For the year carload traffic in 2021 was 12,010,274 carloads, a gain of 6.6 percent, or 744,646 carloads when compared to 2020.

Intermodal traffic for 2021 was 14,142,442 units, an increase of 4.9 percent, or 665,528 containers and trailers over 2020.

Total combined U.S. traffic for 2021 was 26,152,716 carloads and intermodal units, a 5.7 percent increase over 2020.

During December, Class I railroad handled 1,224,780 containers and trailers, a drop of down 109,729 units or 8.2 percent when compared with the same month in 2020.

Carload traffic for the month was 1,135,835 carloads, an increase of 33,918 carloads or 3.1 percent.

The combined, carload and intermodal originations were 2,360,615, a decline of 75,811 carloads and intermodal units. The 3.1 percent decline over December 2020 was driven by intermodal traffic.

AAR said that during December 2021, 14 of its 20 carload commodity categories posted gains when compared with December 2020.

Gaining were coal, up 21,871 carloads (7.4 percent); crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 17,926 carloads (25.3 percent); and chemicals, up 9,675 carloads (6 percent).

Losing ground were grain, down 12,701 carloads (9.9 percent); motor vehicles and parts, down 8,637 carloads (12.6 percent); and petroleum and petroleum products, down 5,560 carloads (10 percent).

STB Modifies Emergency Trackage Rights Rule

December 4, 2021

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board this week approved a final rule regarding a new class exemption for emergency temporary trackage rights.

The new rule ends a 30-day notice period in certain circumstances which STB officials said will allow for faster authorization of trackage rights in response to an unforeseen event that closes a rail route.

The rule was sought by the Association of American Railroads, which wanted to end the 30-day waiver in favor of a five-day process.

U.S. Rail Freight Down 4.5% in November

December 3, 2021

U.S. rail freight for November was down 4.5 percent the Association of American Railroads said this week.

Railroads during the month handled 917,787 carloads, rising 2 percent or 17,996 carloads when compared with November 2020.

They also handled 1,028,039 containers and trailers, a decline of 9.6 percent or 108,705 units compared to last year.

Total carload and intermodal originations for the month were 1,945,826, a decline of 90,709 carloads and intermodal units over the same month last year.

John T. Gray, AAR’s senior vice president, said coal enjoyed robust growth due largely to the price of natural gas used to generate electricity having doubled this year.

Gray noted that coal carloads through November have been up 11 percent.

“Chemicals, grain and commodities related to steel making have also all showed solid carload growth this year,” he said in a statement.

AAR said 15 of the 20 freight categories that it tracks have posted gains through the end of November.

Between January and November, U.S. Class I railroads have handled 10,874,439 carloads, up 7 percent or 710,728 carloads compared with the same period in 2020.

Intermodal traffic on a year-to-date basis has been 12,917,662 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent or 775,257 containers and trailers.

The combined traffic has been 23,792,101 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 6.7 percent.

During November AAR said gains were posted by coal, up 20,731 carloads or 8.6 percent; chemicals, up 5,563 carloads or 4.4 percent; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 5,067 carloads or 7.4 percent.

Losing ground were motor vehicles and parts, down 8,186 carloads or 14.1 percent; grain, down 7,901 carloads or 7.4 percent; and all other carloads, down 3,355 carloads or 14.6 percent.

All comparisons are with November 2020 figures.

Rail Freight Down 4.09% Last Week

November 26, 2021

U.S. rail freight for the week ending Nov. 20 was down 4.09 percent with intermodal volume being the primary culprit for the falloff.

Class 1 railroads handled 508,309 carloads and intermodal units for the week. The percentage decline is in comparison with volume handled in the same week of 2020.

Carload traffic was 237,244 carloads an increase of 1.6 percent but intermodal traffic was down 10 percent to 271,065 intermodal containers and trailers.

The Association of American Railroads said six of the 10 carload commodity groups that it tracks saw gains last week.

This included metallic ores and metals, up 1,838 carloads, to 21,524; coal, up 1,780 carloads, to 64,719; and chemicals, up 1,437 carloads, to 34,174.

Losing ground were miscellaneous carloads, down 1,009 carloads, to 9,064; motor vehicles and parts, down 887 carloads, to 14,690; and grain, down 710 carloads, to 24,494.

To date railroads have handled a cumulative volume of 10,665,348 carloads, an increase of 7.1 percent compared with the same period in 2020. They have handled 12,695,960 intermodal units, a gain of 6.7 percent.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 46 weeks of 2021 was 23,361,308 carloads and intermodal units, a 6.9 percent gain over last year.

STB Moves Ahead on Private Car Proceeding

November 26, 2021

Federal regulators moving ahead with a rule making case that will consider a proposal by private rail car owners to update the demurrage and accessorial rules governing use by railroads of these cars.

The owners sought the rule making process in July. After a public comment period, the U.S. Surface Transportation board has decided to open such a proceeding because, “Petitioners’ proposal and the responses to date raise important issues of interest to the Board.”

The car owners want the STB to adopt regulations that would allow car owners to assess a “private rail car delay charge” when a private freight car does not move for more than 72 consecutive hours at any point between the time it is released for transportation and the time it is “constructively placed or actually placed” at the private rail car provider’s facility or designated location.

Since the car owners through their trade associations proposed the rule in July, the STB has received public comments from various shippers and railroads.

The latter oppose the rule with the Association of American Railroads arguing that the STB lacks legal authority under federal law to adopt the proposed rules.

AAR along with some of its members contend the proposed rule are unnecessary because carriers have sufficient incentives to move cars efficiently. Delayed cars hinder operations and reduce revenue.

The railroads have likewise argued that the proposed rules will result in inefficient operations as railroads are motivated to move private cars in order to avoid charges.

For their part, the rail car owners and their trade associations argue that the proposed rules will provide incentives for Class I railroads to make “efficient use of private rail cars without unduly infringing upon the railroads’ freight operations over their respective systems, recognizing that some level of service variability is inherent in any railroad’s operations.”

In seeking the rule changes, the rail car owners said approximately 73 percent of the rail cars in service – about 1.2 million cars – are no longer owned by railroads.

These cars are used by railroads at little or no cost to them, the car owners contend.

Freight Volume Down 4.7% Last Week

November 18, 2021

U.S. freight traffic for the week ending Nov. 13 was down 4.7 percent compared to the same week in 2020. Lagging intermodal volume continued to drag down overall traffic.

The Association of American Railroads said railroads moved 502,613 carloads and intermodal units.

Carload volume of 235,867 was up 1.7 percent, while intermodal traffic of 266,746 containers and trailers was down 9.7 percent.

Six of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by the AAR saw gains including coal, up 6,917 carloads, to 67,225; nonmetallic minerals, up 1,913 carloads, to 30,983; and chemicals, up 1,555 carloads, to 33,513.

Declines were seen by grain, down 3,772 carloads, to 25,336; motor vehicles and parts, down 2,800 carloads, to 12,690; and miscellaneous carloads, down 729 carloads, to 9,414.

For the first 45 weeks of this year, the cumulative freight volume has been 10,428,104 carloads, up 7.2 percent from the same point last year; and 12,424,895 intermodal units, up 7.2 percent. Total combined traffic has been 22,852,999 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 7.2 percent compared with this point in 2020.

Rail Freight Down 3.5% Last Week

November 11, 2021

U.S. rail freight for the week ending Nov. 6 was down 3.5 percent compared to the same week in 2020.

The same pattern of increased carload traffic being offset by declines in intermodal traffic continued.

Class 1 railroads handled 504,111 carloads and intermodal units. That broke down to 235,585 carloads, a gain of 3.1 percent, and 268,526 containers and trailers, a loss of 8.6 percent.

Gains were registered by coal, up 7,624 carloads, to 66,745; metallic ores and metals, up 3,486 carloads, to 21,039; and chemicals, up 1,178 carloads, to 33,780.

Commodity groups that lost ground included motor vehicles and parts, down 3,204 carloads, to 11,946; grain, down 2,039 carloads, to 25,386; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 413 carloads, to 10,010.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 44 weeks of this year has been 22,350,386 carloads and intermodal units, a gain of 7.5 percent.

NS Worker Receives AAR Environmental Award

October 29, 2021

A Norfolk Southern employee’s work to solve an environmental issue in Ohio has been honored by the Association of American Railroads.

Robert Scoble, engineer of environmental operations-safety and environmental, was named the recipient of AAR’s Professional Environmental Excellence Award.

In a news release, AAR said the honor is the highest in the industry for environmental professionals.

Scoble has worked at NS for seven years, with much of his work overseeing environmental conservation projects in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

He surveys and inspects the facilities to ensure they comply with environmental laws and regulations as well as maintain best practices to improve in all areas.

A highlight of Scoble’s work involved resolving a problem with persistent storm water discharge violations at Moorman Yard in Bellevue.

The problem was that algae blooms were developing in the yard’s storm water ponds.

The solution created by Scoble was a sonification treatment system to kill the algae with sound. That enabled storm water ponds to return to their proper pH levels and enabled the carrier to avoid having to use algicides.

In the news release, AAR said this reduced by two-thirds NS’s expenses related to the storm water pond maintenance.

Rail Freight Volume Down 2.3% Last Week

October 28, 2021

U.S. rail freight volume declined 2.3 percent for the week ending Oct. 20.

The Association of American Railroads said Class 1 carriers handled 239,195 carloads for a gain of 5.1 percent compared with the same week in 2020.

However as in past weeks, intermodal traffic drug down overall traffic volume. AAR said railroads handled 271,567 containers and trailers, down 8  percent. Combined, carloads and intermodal units was 510,762.

Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by AAR saw gains.They included coal, up 8,175 carloads, to 65,712; metallic ores and metals, up 2,537 carloads, to 23,192; and miscellaneous carloads, up 1,537 carloads, to 11,036.

Losing ground were motor vehicles and parts, down 2,057 carloads, to 13,403; petroleum and petroleum products, down 623 carloads, to 9,544; and grain, down 138 carloads, to 25,857.

The year to date freight volume has been 9,718,385, an increase of 7.5. Intermodal traffic has been 11,617,749 units, an increase of 8.5.

Combined traffic has been 21,336,134 carloads and intermodal units, an 8  percent increase. All comparisons are with the 2020.