Posts Tagged ‘Association of American Railroads’

Carload Up, Intermodal Down Last Week

September 23, 2021

U.S. Railroads posted a 3.5 percent gain in carload traffic for the week ending Sept. 18.

The Association of American Railroads said Class 1 railroads handled 234,790 carloads.

Intermodal traffic did not fare as well falling 8.3 percent at 270,832 containers and trailers.

The comparisons are to the same week in 2020 and marked the seventh consecutive week of intermodal losses. 

Total rail traffic was 505,622 carloads and intermodal units, a decline of 3.1 percent when compared with the same week last year.

Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by AAR saw gains. They included coal, up 7,232 carloads, to 68,820; metallic ores and metals, up 5,203 carloads, to 24,798; and nonmetallic minerals, up 2,054 carloads, to 32,676.

Losing ground were were motor vehicles and parts, down 5,896 carloads, to 11,709; grain, down 2,609 carloads, to 19,432; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 388 carloads, to 10,494.

For the first 37 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads handled a cumulative volume of 8,528,660 carloads, an 8 percent increase, with 10,265,525 intermodal units, increasing 10.9 percent from last year.

Total combined traffic for the first 37 weeks of 2021 has been 18,794,185 carloads and intermodal units, up 9.6 percent compared with last year.

Freight Traffic Down 1.3% Last Week

September 16, 2021

U.S. freight traffic fell 1.3 percent for the week ending Sept. 11.

The Association of American Railroads said traffic was 468,610 carloads and intermodal units. AAR officials said declines in intermodal volume offset carload gains.

U.S. Class I railroads moved 223,710 carloads, a gain of 4.5 percent compared with the same week in 2020.

Railroads handled 244,900 containers and trailers, a loss of 6 percent and the sixth consecutive week of intermodal losses.

Six of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by AAR saw gains compared with the same week in 2020.

They included coal, up 9,749 carloads, to 69,927; metallic ores and metals, up 4,227 carloads, to 22,395; and nonmetallic minerals, up 3,731 carloads, to 30,476.

Posting declined were motor vehicles and parts, down 4,862 carloads, to 10,121; grain, down 4,830 carloads, to 16,718; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 558 carloads, to 9,797.

For the first 36 weeks of 2021, railroads handled a cumulative volume of 8,293,870 carloads, a 8.2 percent gain compared with 2020; and 9,994,693 intermodal units, an 11.5 percent gain.

Total combined traffic for the first 36 weeks of 2021 was 18,288,563 carloads and intermodal units, a 10 percent increase from last year.

U.S. Freight Traffic Down 3% Last Week

September 10, 2021

U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Sept. 4 was down 3 percent compared to the same week in 2020.

The Association of American Railroads said Class 1 railroads handled 494,415 carloads and intermodal units.

The broke down to 228,203 carloads, up 2.6 percent compared with 2020 and 266,212 containers and trailers, down 7.3 percent.

It was the fifth consecutive week that intermodal traffic lagged behind corresponding levels for the same weeks in 2020.

Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked saw increases compared with 2020.

They included coal, up 5,824 carloads, to 66,950; metallic ores and metals, up 5,151 carloads, to 22,768; and nonmetallic minerals, up 2,680 carloads, to 32,281.

Posting losses were grain, down 6,211 carloads, to 16,711; motor vehicles and parts, down 3,866 carloads, to 12,421; and farm products excluding grain, and food, down 5 carloads, to 15,342.

For the first 35 weeks of 2021, total traffic (carload and intermodal) was up 10.3 percent compared to the same time last year.

U.S. Rail Freight Down 2.6% Last Week

August 26, 2021

U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Aug. 21 fell 2.6 percent when compared to the same week in 2020, the Association of American Railroads reported.

The carriers handled 501,273 carloads and intermodal units, AAR said.

That also is a decline compared to the same week in 2019 Susquehanna Financial Group Analyst Bascome Majors said.

Majors said the four-week trend was up 1 percent vs. 2020 and down 6 percent from 2019.

AAR said Class 1 railroads last week handled 230,754 carloads, an increase of 0.4 percent and 270,519 containers and trailers, a fall of 5.1 percent compared with 2020.

It was the third consecutive week that intermodal posted declines compared with 2020.

Five of the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by AAR saw increases compared with the same week in 2020.

They included metallic ores and metals, up 4,551 carloads, to 23,522; nonmetallic minerals, up 2,802 carloads, to 33,109; and miscellaneous carloads, up 1,042 carloads, to 10,653.

Losing ground were grain, down 4,483 carloads, to 18,098; motor vehicles and parts, down 2,513 carloads, to 13,974; and farm products excluding grain, and food, down 1,042 carloads, to 14,906.

For the first 33 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads handled cumulative volume of 7,607,296 carloads, a gain of 8.6 percent from the same point last year; and 9,213,825 intermodal units, an increase of 13.3 percent over 2020.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 33 weeks of 2021 was 16,821,121 carloads and intermodal units, rising 11.1 percent from last year.

Carload Traffic Up, But Intermodal Down

August 19, 2021

U.S. rail freight traffic for the week ending Aug. 14 saw gains in carload volume but declines in intermodal volume.

Class 1 railroads during that week handled 504,810 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 0.9 percent compared with the same week in 2020.

Carload traffic was 235,011, a gain of 5.7 percent while intermodal traffic was 269,799 containers and trailers, a decline of 3 percent.

The Association of American Railroads said five of the 10 carload commodity groups it tracks posted an increase compared with the same point in 2020.

They included coal, up 8,196 carloads, to 67,054; metallic ores and metals, up 5,676 carloads, to 24,678; and nonmetallic minerals, up 2,080 carloads, to 32,602.

Losing ground were grain, down 2,906 carloads, to 19,488; motor vehicles and parts, down 1,883 carloads, to 13,512; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 526 carloads, to 10,314.

For the first 32 weeks of 2021, railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,376,542 carloads, increasing 8.9 percent compared with the same week in 2020; and 8,943,306 intermodal units, an increase of 14 percent.

Total combined traffic for the period was 16,319,848 carloads and intermodal units, an 11.6 percent gain over 2020.

AAR Seeks to Forestall Intermodal Regulation

August 13, 2021

The Association of American Railroads warned federal regulators on Thursday that any attempts they might make to regulate intermodal traffic would have unintended consequences and run afoul of congressional intent to keep the railroad industry deregulated.

The railroad trade group acted after U.S. Surface Transportation Board Chairman Martin J. Oberman expressed concerns about how intermodal traffic has slowed due to terminal congestion.

Containers are stacking up at busy terminals on the West Coast and in Chicago and ships are waiting outside harbors to unload containers coming from overseas.

Oberman also discussed how shippers have had to pay railroads large storage and demurrage fees for containers sitting in intermodal terminals.

The latter has led some shippers to ask the STB to intervene.

In its statement, the AAR said regulation of intermodal traffic would not resolve the current congestion issues.

Individual Class 1 carriers have said in letters to the STB that the issues causing the congestion in the supply chain are not the fault of the railroads

Instead, the railroads have pointed to shippers being slow to pick up containers due to labor shortages at warehouses.

“The global supply chain faces unprecedented challenges in its recovery from the global pandemic, caused by factors beyond the Board’s regulatory regime,” AAR Counsel Timothy Strafford wrote in a letter to Oberman.

Strafford’s letter noted that the former Interstate Commerce Commission and the STB itself have broadly exempted from regulation trailer-on-flatcar/container-on-flatcar services “due to the fiercely competitive nature of intermodal traffic.”

He said railroads lack market domination over intermodal shipments and therefore the STB should refrain from regulating storage charges.

AAR said that if regulators were to limit demurrage fees through regulation, shippers would have no incentive to promptly remove containers from intermodal terminals and that would force railroads to further meter inbound container shipments or halt them altogether until the backlog of stored containers can be cleared out.

In recent weeks some Class 1 carriers have restricted the flow of containers to certain terminals in an effort to reduce the number of containers being stored there while awaiting pickup from shippers.

Strafford said in his letter to Oberman that Class I carriers have been working with shippers to keep intermodal terminals and rail networks fluid.

Intermodal Showing Signs of Slowing

August 11, 2021

U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Aug. 7 up 2.4 percent, but intermodal volume, which had been a bright spot earlier in the year showed signs of slowing.

The Association of American Railroads said railroads handled 509,607 carloads and intermodal units last week.

The percentage increase is comparison to the same week in 2020.

Railroads handled 234,336 carloads, a 6.3 percent increase and 275,271 containers and trailers, a 0.6 percent decrease.

Rail volumes for the week were down 5 percent from the same week in 2019, according to Susquehanna Financial Group Analyst Bascome Majors.

Majors said intermodal last week was up 1 percent from 2019, and the four-week trend for intermodal was up 1 percent vs. 2019.

AAR said six of the 10 carload commodity groups it tracks posted gains compared with the same week in 2020.

They included metallic ores and metals, up 7,424 carloads, to 23,193; coal, up 7,301 carloads, to 66,838; and nonmetallic minerals, up 3,131 carloads, to 33,759.

Losing ground were grain, down 3,730 carloads, to 18,190; motor vehicles and parts, down 2,937 carloads, to 13,230; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,106 carloads, to 10,188.

For the first 31 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 7,141,531 carloads, a rise of 9 percent compared to the same point in 2020; and 8,673,507 intermodal units, growing 14.6 percent over last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 31 weeks of 2021 was 15,815,038 carloads and intermodal units, a gain of 12 percent vs. last year.

Rail Freight Increases Slowed in July

August 5, 2021

U.S. rail freight traffic was up in July, but the percentage increase was significantly lower than that recorded in other recent months the Association of American Railroads reported on Wednesday.

AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray said this was due to “more difficult comparisons and because various external factors have led to a recent deceleration in rail volumes.”

For example, grain exports were down so grain shipments also fell. Automakers continue to be hindered by semiconductor shortages and are thus producing fewer vehicles.

Gray said slowdowns in the worldwide supply chain has adversely affected rail shippers.

“While all of these should be manageable, temporary setbacks, their convergence has resulted in weaker rail volumes than basic domestic economic factors might otherwise imply,” Gray said.

In July, U.S. Class I railroads originated 904,670 carloads, an increase of 6.6 percent, or 55,969 carloads compared with July 2020.

The carriers originated 1,066,169 containers and trailers, a gain of 1.5 percent or 15,450 units. The combined July originations was 1,970,839, up 3.8 percent, or 71,419 carloads and intermodal units compared with July 2020.

Of the 20 carload commodity categories AAR tracks each month, 10 saw gains in July 2021.

These included: coal, up 31,619 carloads or 14.1 percent; metallic ores, up 14,151 carloads or 137.8 percent; and primary metal products, up 9,802 carloads or 36.4 percent.

Posting declines were motor vehicles and parts, down 12,309 carloads or 21.3 percent; grain, down 6,112 carloads or 7.3 percent; and grain mill products, down 1,862 carloads or 5 percent.

Excluding coal, carloads were up 24,350 carloads, or 3.9 percent, in July 2021 vs. the same month last year.

Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 30,462 carloads, or 5.6 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first seven months of 2021 was 6,907,195 carloads, increasing 9.1 percent, or 573,549 carloads, from the same point last year; and 8,398,236 intermodal units, gaining 15.2 percent, or 1,109,282 containers and trailers, from 2020.

Total combined traffic for the first 30 weeks of the year was 15,305,431 carloads and intermodal units, a 12.4 percent increase.

Shipper Coalition Seeks Reciprocal Switching

July 31, 2021

A coalition of railroad shippers is seeking new federal rules that would allow reciprocal switching.

The group, known as the Rail Consumer Coalition, made their plea in a letter to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Shippers n the coalition account for more than half of U.S. freight traffic and claim to generate three-quarters of the revenue earned by Class 1 railroads.

They include firms in the manufacturing, agricultural, and energy sectors and include trade associations for the automakers, chemical producers, forest product and paper manufacturers, as well as rail shipper groups such as the National Industrial Transportation League.

In their letter to the STB, the coalition said rail freight rates adjusted for inflation have risen 43 percent since 2004 because of railroad industry consolidation.

“Given the dramatic concentration of market power in the railroad industry, rethinking policies designed for a different era is both timely and smart,” the coalition wrote to federal regulators.

“Reciprocal switching would help empower rail customers such as farmers, manufacturers and energy providers to choose a carrier that provides the best combination of rates and service.”

The letter went on to say greater market choice would change shipper-railroad relationships and lead to resolutions of rate and service issues.

Reciprocal switching would allow a facility served by one railroad to seek service from a second railroad via interchange.

It has long been a goal of carload rail shippers. The STB launched a reciprocal switching investigation in 2016, but it has yet to lead to any action by regulators.

The Association of American Railroads opposes reciprocal switching, which it has labeled forced access.

“Any STB action mandating forced switching would put railroads at a severe disadvantage to freight transportation providers that depend upon tax-payer funded infrastructure,” AAR CEO Ian Jefferies said. “Such a rule would degrade rail’s significant benefits to both customers and the public by throttling network fluidity, disincentivizing investment, increasing costs to shippers and consumers, and ultimately diverting traffic onto trucks and the nation’s already troubled highways.”

AAR officials have described freight rates as fair market rates.

STB Chairman Martin J. Oberman in recently remarks has expressed an interest in taking up reciprocal switching and others measures that might increase competition among railroads.

Rail Freight Still Lags Behind 2019 Levels

July 29, 2021

U.S. rail freight for the week ending July 24 continued to show growth, but an industry analyst noted that 2021 traffic continues to lag behind what railroad handled during the same period of 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Association of American Railroads said that last week U.S. rail traffic was 503,219 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.6 percent over the same week in 2020.

But a report from Susquehanna Financial Group Analyst Bascome Majors said the 2021 figures of last week are 6 percent lower than the same week in 2019.

He said the four-week trend was up 7 percent vs. 2020 but down 3 percent when compared with 2019.

Carloads last week were 230,095, an increase of 7.1 percent compared with 2020 while intermodal volume was 273,124 containers and trailers, up 2.6 percent.

Yet those same traffic categories when compared with 2019 showed intermodal was flat and the four-week trend for intermodal was up 3 percent vs. 2019.

Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase last week compared with the same week in 2020, AAR said.

They included coal, up 8,411 carloads, to 65,945; metallic ores and metals, up 7,662 carloads, to 23,124; and nonmetallic minerals, up 2,162 carloads, to 33,115.

Posting declines were motor vehicles and parts, down 4,390 carloads, to 10,765; farm products excluding grain, and food, down 1,722 carloads, to 14,679; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 309 carloads, to 10,530.

For the first 29 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,678,220 carloads, rising 9.2 percent from the prior-year period; and 8,124,671 intermodal units, increasing 15.8 percent.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the period was 14,802,891 carloads and intermodal units, a 12.7 percent gain compared with 2020.