Posts Tagged ‘freight volumes’

U.S. Freight Traffic Down in 2022

January 5, 2023

U.S. freight railroad carload and intermodal traffic both fell in 2022 the Association of American Railroads reported this week.

Carload traffic was down 0.3 percent while intermodal volume fell 4.9 percent. The comparisons are to calendar year 2021.

Carload traffic for the year was 11,976,283 carloads or 34,001 carloads in 2022. Intermodal volume was 13,452,480 intermodal units or 686,580 containers and trailers.

Total combined U.S. traffic for 2022 was 25,428,763 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 2.8 percent compared to 2021.

Single-digit declines occurred during December 2022 when compared with December 2021.

AAR figures showed railroads originated 842,171 carloads in December 2022, down 4.4 percent, or 38,476 carloads.

December 2022 intermodal traffic was 900,213 containers and trailers down 5.2 percent, or 49,107 units compared with the same month in 2021.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in December 2022 were 1,742,384, down 4.8 percent, or 87,583 carloads and intermodal units from December 2021.

In December 2022, four of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR posted gains.

That included motor vehicles and parts, up 5,842 carloads or 12.9 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 2,034 carloads or 3 percent; and food products, up 721 carloads or 3.2 percent.

Losing ground in December were chemicals, down 16,067 carloads or 12.1 percent; coal, down 12,991 carloads or 5.2 percent; and grain, down 4,589 carloads or 5.2 percent.

“Rail markets are always evolving, and 2022 was no exception,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement.

Gray said coal volume grew solidly last year largely because higher natural gas prices made coal-fired electricity generation more competitive.

“However, those same higher natural gas prices, along with other market disruptors, hurt rail chemical volumes since natural gas is a key raw material for chemical manufacturing,” Gray said.

Grain carloads in 2022 were slightly higher than the annual average over the past decade, but they were down compared with 2021, which was the best year for grain carloads since 2008.

Although intermodal traffic in 2022 was the sixth best on record, the grain volume of 2021 was stronger.

U.S. Freight Traffic Up 0.5% in October

November 3, 2022

Rail freight traffic in October was up 0.5 percent the Association of American Railroads said on Wednesday.

U.S. railroads originated 952,074 carloads last month, the AAR said, which was 5,121 carloads more than they handled in October 2021.

The totals included 1,062,422 containers and trailers, which was a drop of 1.4 percent or 15,095 units, compared with October 2021.

The combined, carload and intermodal originations of 2,014,496 was down 0.5 percent, or 9,974 carloads and intermodal units, from last year.

AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray said October is usually one of the highest-volume months of the year for rail carloads and has proven to be the best month thus far in 2022.

Gray said intermodal traffic remains subdued largely because of high inventories at many retailers, lower port volumes and still-scarce warehouse capacity for many rail intermodal customers.

During October seven of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR posted gains.

They included coal, up 14,937 carloads or 5.8 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 8,615 carloads or 10.7 percent; and motor vehicles and parts, up 5,998 carloads or 11.4 percent. Losing ground were chemicals, down 6,195 carloads or 4.8 percent; primary metal products, down 4,645 carloads or 13.2 percent; and all other carloads, down 4,209 carloads or 16.8 percent.

All comparisons are with October 2021.

Gray noted that grain traffic surged because producers chose rail as an alternative to the Mississippi River constraints. He said motor vehicles traffic had one of its better months since before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March 2020.

“Carloads of chemicals were down in part because of high natural gas feedstock prices,” Gray said in a statement.

Excluding coal, carloads were down 9,816, or 1.4 percent, in October compared with October 2021. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 8,950, or 1.5 percent.

AAR said rail freight volume in October was similar to the result of July and August when carloads were up and intermodal volume was down.

In September carloads and intermodal volume alike were down compared to the same month in 2021.

Thus far in 2022, U.S. carload traffic has been 9,971,376 carloads, up 0.1 percent, or 14,912 carloads, compared with the first 10 months of 2021.

Intermodal traffic has been 11,321,976 intermodal units, down 4.8 percent, or 567,366 containers and trailers.

Total combined freight traffic for the first 43 weeks of 2022 was 21,293,352 carloads and intermodal units, a 2.5 percent decline compared with last year.

Freight Traffic Down 3.2% in June

July 7, 2022

U.S. Class I railroads hauled 1,157,555 carloads in June, a decline of 1.5 percent, or 17,970 carloads when compared with the same month in 2021.

The Association of American Railroads said that intermodal traffic this past June was 1,323,119 containers and trailers, a decline of 4.6 percent or 63,483 units compared with June 2021.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in June 2022 was 2,480,674, a fall of 3.2 percent, or 81,453 carloads and intermodal units compared with the same month last year.

AAR said eight of the 20 carload commodities it tracks posted carload gains in June.

These included crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 7,028 carloads or 7.3 percent; grain, up 4,794 carloads or 4.5 percent; and motor vehicles and parts, up 3,839 carloads or 6.2 percent.

Losing ground were coal, down 10,226 carloads or 3.1 percent; all other carloads, down 7,532 carloads or 23.1 percent; and primary metal products, down 5,388 carloads or 11.6 percent.

Excluding coal, carloads were down 7,744 carloads, or 0.9 percent, in June 2022 from June 2021. Excluding coal and grain, they were down 12,538 carloads, or 1.7 percent.

AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray said this week that the June traffic report doesn’t indicate whether the economy is on the verge of a recession as many economists are warning.

“Like many other economic indicators today, rail traffic is a mix of red, yellow and green, with some traffic lines, such as automotive, providing generally positive indicators, while others, such as chemicals, being a bit more subdued than they were earlier in the year,” Gray said.

Carload traffic for the first six months of this year was 5,993,917, down 0.1 percent, or 8,823 carloads compared with the first half of 2021.

Intermodal traffic was 6,878,726 intermodal units, down 6.2 percent, or 453,282 containers and trailers.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 26 weeks of 2022 was 12,872,643 carloads and intermodal units, a 3.5 percent drop compared with the same period in 2021.

Freight Traffic Continues Double-Digit Gains

April 29, 2021

U.S. rail freight traffic was up during the week ending April 24 with intermodal showing a whopping double-digit percent gain.

Of course all weekly traffic figures for the next several weeks come with a footnote, namely that they are inflated when compared to a year ago because in 2020 the economy fell into recession in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic and freight traffic fell with it.

Nonetheless, the Association of American Railroads said the largest monthly gain ever for intermodal came in March 2021 when it rose 24 percent over March 2020. Thus far in April there have been two weeks of 28 percent gains.

For the week ending April 24 total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 538,184 carloads and intermodal units, a 30 percent increase over the same week last year.

Total carloads were 240,075 and intermodal was 298,109 containers and trailers, increasing 25 percent and 34.3 percent, respectively, over the same point in 2020.

All 10 carload commodity groups saw increases last week when compared to 2020.

They included coal, up 16,126 carloads, to 64,252; motor vehicles and parts, up 9,067 carloads, to 11,302; and chemicals, up 6,759 carloads, to 34,843.

For the first 16 weeks of 2021, the cumulative volume has been carloads, up 1.5 percent from the same period in 2020; and 4,493,689 intermodal units, up 16.8 percent from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 16 weeks of 2021 was 8,115,768 carloads and intermodal units, up 9.4 percent.

Intermodal Continues to Show Growth

November 27, 2020

U.S. rail freight for the week ending Nov. 21 continued to follow its now established pattern.

Intermodal volume bolstered overall traffic while carload traffic remains down.

However, the Association of American Railroads said the year-to-date gap between 2019 and 2020 levels is closing.

Total traffic was 534,607 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.5 percent when compared with the same week in 2019.

Railroads handled 301,129 intermodal units an increase of 11.5 percent. The 233,478 total carloads is a 7.2 percent decrease.

Three commodity categories gained volume including grain, which rose 13.4 percent.

Four of the seven categories fell more than 12 percent.

The cumulative total of 22,268,906 carloads and intermodal units is an 8.5 percent decrease compared with 2019,

However, two weeks ago the gap with 2019 volumes was 9.1 percent. Carload traffic is running 14 percent below 2019 while intermodal units are down 3.4 percent.

Weekly Freight Traffic Continues ‘Repeat’ Cycle

October 22, 2020

Like a broken record, U.S. rail traffic continues to be stuck on repeat.

For the week ending Oct. 17, the Association of American Railroads said rail traffic was 518,763 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.2 percent compared with the same week last year.

However, carloads at 226,828 were down 7.5 percent compared with the same week in 2019, while intermodal volume was 291,935 containers and trailers, up 11.3 percent.

This pattern of intermodal gains offsetting carload losses has played out for several weeks.

Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted gains when compared with the same week in 2019.

Grain was up 4,920 carloads to 25,547, miscellaneous carloads rose 1,223 carloads to 10,411, and motor vehicles and parts were up 884 carloads, to 15,636.

Posting losses were coal, down 15,084 carloads, to 59,979; nonmetallic minerals, down 4,932 carloads, to 31,058; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 2,429 carloads, to 10,293.

For the first 42 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported a cumulative volume of 9,025,595 carloads, down 14.9 percent from the same point last year; and 10,615,783 intermodal units, down 5.1 percent from last year.

Total combined traffic for the period was 19,641,378 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 9.8 percent compared to last year.

Rail Traffic Down 1% in September

October 9, 2020

September U.S. rail traffic mirrored the situation that has been going on for weeks.

Intermodal traffic was up and help offset lagging carload traffic, the Association of American Railroads reported this week.

The net result was that freight traffic was down 1 percent in September compared with September 2019 levels.

U.S. railroads hauled 1,119,546 carloads last month, down 9.7 percent compared with September 2019 levels.

The railroads originated 1,423,883 containers and trailers during September, a 7.1 percent increase from the same period a year ago.

Combined, U.S. railroads handled 2,543,429 carloads and intermodal units during September.

“September 2020 was the fourth best intermodal month in history for U.S. railroads, as retailers and others restocked their inventories and prepared for the holiday season,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a news release.

“Meanwhile, rail carloads, which don’t include intermodal, remained down in September compared with last year, but showed marked improvement compared to a few months ago, especially if you exclude coal.”

Eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month posted gains. This included grain, up 27.8 percent; iron and steel scrap, up 12.2 percent; and grain mill products, up 4.7 percent.

Posting losses were coal, down 24.2 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, down 20.9 percent; and chemicals, down 5.6 percent. Excluding coal, carloads were down 2.9 percent. 

Total U.S. carloads hauled during the first nine months of 2020 fell 15.3 percent to 8,567,803 units, while intermodal volume fell 5.9 percent to 10,034,360 containers and trailers.

Intermodal Continued Growth Pattern

August 27, 2020

Intermodal traffic continued to be up but total rail freight traffic was down for the week ending Aug. 22.

AAR said U.S. railroads moved 285,086 containers and trailers during the period, a 5 percent increased compared to the same week in 2019.

It was the third consecutive week that intermodal traffic has bested 2019 weekly levels.

Total weekly rail traffic was 514,914 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.3 percent compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads fell 12 percent compared with the same week in 2019.

Two of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2019.

Grain was up 1,489 carloads, to 22,530 while and farm products excluding grain, and food, was up 705 carloads, to 15,951.

Posting declines for the week were coal, down 16,929 carloads, to 64,500; nonmetallic minerals, down 8,464 carloads, to 30,294; and metallic ores and metals, down 2,467 carloads, to 18,981.

For the first 34 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads handled cumulative volume of 7,222,554 carloads, down 16 percent from the same point last year.

Intermodal units were down 8 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the period was 15,550,427 carloads and intermodal units, a fall of 11.9 percent compared with last year.

Intermodal Ticked Up Last Week

August 13, 2020

Rail traffic took another step toward recovery last week when intermodal traffic rose above 2019 levels for the same period of 2019.

The Association of American Railroads said that for the week ending Aug. 8 intermodal volume was 277,054 containers and trailers, an increase of 1.9 percent compared with 2019.

However, total rail traffic was 497,397 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.7 percent compared with the same week of 2019.

Total carloads for the week were 220,343 carloads, down 15.6 compared compared with the same week in 2019.

One of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2019.

Grain was up 773 carloads, to 22,081. Coal was down 18,113 carloads, to 59,328; nonmetallic minerals, was down 11,269 carloads, to 30,706; and metallic ores and metals were down 6,591 carloads, to 15,754.

For the first 32 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,770,373 carloads, down 16.2 percent from the same point last year; and 7,764,577 intermodal units, down 8.8 percent from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 32 weeks of 2020 was 14,534,950 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 12.4 percent compared to last year.

Rail Traffic Slump Continued Last Week

July 30, 2020

Rail freight traffic continued to slump last week the Association of American Railroads said on Wednesday.

For the week ending July 25 weekly rail traffic was 481,331 carloads and intermodal units, down 9.9 percent compared with the same week in 2019.

Total carloads were 215,171 carloads, down 17.8 percent compared while intermodal volume was 266,160 containers and trailers, down 2.4 percent compared with 2019.

Just one the 10 carload commodity groups tracked by AAR posted a weekly gain.

That was farm products excluding grain, and food, which was up 218 carloads, to 16,406.

Commodities that posted declines compared with the same week in 2019 included coal, down 23,517 carloads to 57,769; metallic ores and metals, down 8,690 carloads, to 15,464; and nonmetallic minerals, down 7,369 carloads, to 30,946.

For the first 30 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,332,339 carloads, down 16.1 percent from the same point last year; and 7,217,246 intermodal units, down 9.4 percent from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 30 weeks of 2020 was 13,549,585 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 12.7 percent compared to last year.