Posts Tagged ‘Association of American Railroads’

Automotive Traffic Rebounding on Class 1s

June 7, 2022

Automotive traffic on U.S. Class 1 railroads has improved in recent weeks, which may be evidence that the supply chain in the automotive industry is recovering, Trains magazine reported in an analysis posted on its website.

All seven Class 1 systems have posted gains in automotive traffic during the second quarter of 2022 with CSX and Norfolk Southern respectively reporting increases of more than 10 percent since April 1.

The report drew data from the weekly traffic reports issued by the Association of American Railroads.

Automotive traffic has been hindered in the past two years by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a resulting shortage of semiconductor chips installed in new vehicles during the manufacturing process.

The Trains report noted that the rail systems still trail pre-pandemic automotive traffic levels.

The report can be read at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/railroads-automotive-carloads-show-signs-of-improvement-analysis/

Groups Want USDOT to Use IIJA Funds to Help Ease Supply Chain Congestion Problems

May 15, 2022

Organizations representing the transportation, manufacturing and construction industries have asked U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to use funding in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to help untangle supply chain congestion.

They sent a letter to Buttigieg requesting that USDOT “dedicate as much as allowable by law in discretionary grants for FY 2022 to support projects that will facilitate and ease the movement of goods.”

The groups want USDOT to use $18 billion for various grant programs over the next five years.

Among the signers of the letter were the Association of American Railroads, and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

During a Senate hearing earlier this month Buttigieg said the proposed federal year 2023 budget for USDOT includes $36.8 billion in advance appropriations provided by the infrastructure law.

Some Freight Made Gains in April

May 5, 2022

U.S. rail freight traffic in April showed gains but also fell short of what it was in the same month a year ago.

The Association of American Railroads said combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in April were 2,002,854, a decline of 5.8 percent, or 122,798 carloads and intermodal units when compared with April 2021.

Carload traffic was 919,703 carloads, a fall of 3.4 percent or 31,929 carloads while intermodal traffic was 1,083,151 containers and trailers, a decline of 7.7 percent or 90,869 units.

Eight of the 20 carload commodity categories that AAR tracks saw carload gains compared with April 2021.

These included motor vehicles and parts, up 5,649 carloads or 12 percent; chemicals, up 4,463 carloads or 3.4 percent; and food products, up 1,632 carloads or 6.7 percent.

Losing ground were grain, down 15,817 carloads or 15.2 percent; metallic ores, down 9,070 carloads or 32.5 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 7,670 carloads or 17.3 percent.

Excluding coal, carloads fell by 29,329 carloads, or 4.2 percent, in April 2022. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down by 13,512 carloads, or 2.3 percent.

“U.S. rail traffic in April had something for everyone,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement.  “Optimists can point to autos, chemicals and scrap, all of which had solid gains. Pessimists can point to grain, intermodal and petroleum products, which saw significant declines.”

Gray said in the middle were industrial products, an aggregation of seven key carload categories, which fell slightly in April.

During April intermodal traffic set records. Grain, food, lumber, paper, scrap metal and several other commodity categories exceeded the April 2019 pre-pandemic levels as well as April 2020’s pandemic levels, Gray said.

Total carload traffic for the first four months of 2022 has been 3,906,843 carloads, rising 1.1 percent, or 44,191 carloads, from the previous-year period; and 4,453,049 intermodal units, falling 7.1 percent, or 340,541 containers and trailers.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 17 weeks of 2022 was 8,359,892 carloads and intermodal units, a 3.4 percent decline from 2021.

U.S. Rail Freight Traffic Had Mixed March

April 7, 2022

U.S. rail freight traffic was decidedly mixed during March, the Association of American Railroads reported.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations for the month were 2,507,684, a decline of 3 percent or 78,714 carloads and intermodal units when compared with March 2021.

That breaks down to 1,169,546 carloads—up 1.2 percent or 13,456 carloads compared with the same month in 202.

Intermodal traffic for March 2022 was 1,338,138 containers and trailers, a drop of 6.4 percent or 92,170 units compared with last year.

John T. Gray, AAR senior vice president, said chemical carload traffic had its best month ever but grain, petroleum products and papers products posted significant declines.

At the same time Gray said carloads of crushed stone and sand, food products, lumber, and motor vehicles “were higher than they’ve been in months.”

Calling these trend “conflicting,” Gray said they reflect “an economy with a good deal of directional uncertainty; uncertainty that needs resolution before its full potential can be realized.”

The AAR figures showed that in March nine of the 20 carload commodity categories that it tracks posted gains compared with March 2021.

These included chemicals, up 18,291 carloads or 11.7 percent; coal, up 16,637 carloads or 5.4 percent; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 7,974 carloads or 8.5 percent.

Losing ground were grain, down 13,839 carloads or 10.8 percent; petroleum and petroleum products, down 9,033 carloads or 16.5 percent; and all other carloads, down 4,459 carloads or 14.6 percent.

Excluding coal, carloads fell by 3,181, or 0.4 percent. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up by 10,658, or 1.5 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first three months of 2022 was 2,987,140, a gain of 2.6 percent, or 76,120 carloads compared with the first three months of 2021.

Railroads handled 3,369,898 intermodal units, a decline of 6.9 percent or 249,672 containers and trailers.

Total combined traffic for the first 13 weeks of 2022 was 6,357,038 carloads and intermodal units, a 2.7 percent decline from 2021.

February U.S. Rail Traffic up 5.7 Percent

March 3, 2022

February U.S. railroad freight traffic posted a 5.7 percent gain, the Association of American Railroads said this week.

The combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations for the month were 1,945,646 units, a gain of 104,819 carloads and intermodal units when compared with February 2021.

Carloads for the month were 915,329, a gain of 11 percent or 90,525 carloads over February 2020.

Intermodal traffic was 1,030,317 containers and trailers, which was a 1.4 percent or 14,294 increase.

AAR said 15 of the 20 carload commodity categories it tracks posted gains compared with February 2020.

These included: coal, up 47,238 carloads or 21.3 percent; chemicals, up 19,397 carloads or 16.4 percent; and crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 17,918 carloads or 36.3 percent.

Losing ground were motor vehicles and parts, down 6,358 carloads or 11.4 percent; petroleum and petroleum products, down 3,191 carloads or 8 percent; and all other carloads, down 2,162 carloads or 9.3 percent.

“U.S. rail traffic had big year-over-year gains in February largely because severe winter storms held volumes back last February,” AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray said in a statement..

“That said, there were pockets of real strength last month,” Gray said.

“For example, carloads of chemicals set a new monthly record last month, carloads of coal were the highest in five months and carloads of lumber were the most in eight months.”

Excluding coal, carloads were up 43,287 carloads, or 7.2 percent, in February 2022 compared with February 2021.

Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 39,619 carloads, or 7.7 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first two months of 2022 were 1,817,594 carloads, an increase of 3.6 percent, or 62,664 carloads when compared with the same time period in 2020.

The 2,031,760 intermodal units was a drop of 7.2 percent, or 157,502 containers and trailers. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first eight weeks of 2022 was 3,849,354 carloads and intermodal units, falling 2.4 percent from the previous-year period.

AAR Seeks Support in STB Switching Case

February 18, 2022

The Association of American Railroads posted on its website this week a letter that it is asking the public to sign to express opposition to reciprocal switching.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board will conduct hearings March 15-16 on a proposed rule to establish standards for reciprocal switching arrangements.

That would involve the STB ordering a railroad that is the sole rail service provider to a shipper to handle cars for a second railroad.

The latter would need to have an interchange with the sole rail service provider within a prescribed physical distance of the shipper, in this case 30 miles.

The sole rail provider would be paid a fee by the second railroad that would be determined by regulators.

AAR opposes reciprocal switching, which it seeks to frame as “forced  switching,” saying it would undercut rail revenues and result less use of rail for shipping because it “presents both short-term disruption to an already strained supply chain and long-term harm if it leads to fewer transportation options for businesses and more congestion on public infrastructure — not to mention diminished passenger rail service.”

Supporters of reciprocal switching say its benefits would include enhancing competition.

Rail Research Findings Placed in e-Library

February 17, 2022

The Transportation Technology Center Incoporated is providing online public access to its database of railroad technology research that was performed under the Association of American Railroads’ Strategic Research Initiatives program.

An e-library is making available Technology Digest, a weekly publication that highlights key research findings and reports industry-serving projects,

The database dates to 1992 and can be reached via this link

In a news release, TTCI officials said new digests will become available 60 days following their initial distribution to AAR member subscribers.

Among the topics that TTCI has investigated are wheel-rail interaction, advanced wheel and rail materials, special trackwork, bridges, vehicle dynamics, inspection technologies, and geotechnical studies. TTCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of AAR.

AAR Calls Reciprocal Switching a ‘wealth transfer’

February 16, 2022

Ahead of hearings next month by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board on a proposed rule to allow reciprocal switching, the Association of American Railroads has described the practice as a wealth transfer.

The STB plans to conduct hearings on March 15-16 on a long dormant proposal to promulgate reciprocal switching regulations.

The concept has triggered controversy since it was initially proposed in 2016 with freight railroads and their shippers divided in their views on the issue.

The rule the STB is considering would require a railroad with sole physical access to a shipper to transfer cars from that shipper to a second railroad at a junction point with the latter.

The second railroad would be required to pay a per-car switching fee to the sole access carrier with that fee being determined by the STB.

Reciprocal switching orders would only be issued in cases in which a shipper can prove to regulators that reciprocal switching is feasible and necessary to enhance competition.

In a filing with the STB, AAR, which describes reciprocal switching as “forced switching,” called the proposed rule misguided and wants it abandoned.

“Forced switching is not in the public interest. It is a wealth transfer to more profitable entities,” the AAR said.

The filing also contended that reciprocal switching would exacerbate supply chain problems and suggested it would only benefit large industrial shippers.

U.S. January Rail Freight Traffic Was Mixed Bag

February 3, 2022

U.S. rail freight in January was a mixed bag, the Association of American Railroads reported on Wednesday.

Six of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR posted traffic gains when compared with January 2021.

These included coal, up 13,596 carloads or 5.6 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 4,384 carloads or 7.2 percent; and chemicals, up 1,099 carloads or 0.8 percent.

Declines were seen by grain, down 15,396 carloads or 14 percent; motor vehicles and parts, down 11,559 carloads or 19.8 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 9,509 carloads or 20.1 percent.

The combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in January 2022 were 1,903,708, down 9.5 percent, or 199,657 carloads and intermodal units.

AAR officials said this was based on 902,265 carloads—down 3 percent or 27,861 carloads from the same month in 2021—and 1,001,443 containers and trailers—down 14.6 percent, or 171,796 units.

Excluding coal, carloads fell by 41,457, or 6 percent last month. Excluding coal and grain, carloads dropped by 26,061, or 4.5 percent.

AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray said January freight traffic “made for very difficult comparisons for a number of categories.”

He said January 2021 was the best January for grain since 1990, and was also the highest volume month ever for intermodal.

Gray said January 2022, though, saw the highest volume monthly volumes for rail carloads of chemicals, thus providing a strong base for future growth.

STB Won’t Extend Reciprocal Switching Proceeding

January 29, 2022

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has denied a request by the Association of American Railroads to delay the proceedings in a reciprocal switching inquiry.

The STB said on Friday it would continue its planned schedule for the review, including public hearings that begin on March 15.

AAR had sought to extend the schedule for the proceeding by 75 days.

In its decision, the STB said it found “that the amount of notice and time for preparation provided was sufficient and that AAR’s alternative request for extension of the comment deadline would hinder the ability of the Board and the hearing participants to review parties’ submissions before the hearing.”