Posts Tagged ‘freight volumes’

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.

Freight Traffic Rebound Continues to Lag

July 23, 2020

U.S. freight traffic continued to struggle during the week ending July 18.

Statistics released this week by the Association of American Railroads showed rail traffic for the week was 481,597 carloads and intermodal units, a decline of 8.5 percent compared with the same week last year.

During the week carload traffic was 214,685, down 15.7 percent compared with the same week in 2019, while intermodal volume was 266,912 containers and trailers, down 1.7 percent.

Just one of the 10 carload commodity groups AAR tracks reported an increase and it was modest.

Miscellaneous carloads, rose 212 carloads, to 10,782. Posting declines were coal, down 22,464 carloads, to 56,202; metallic ores and metals, down 6,659 carloads, to 15,766; and nonmetallic minerals, down 6,108 carloads, to 30,986.

For the first 29 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,117,168 carloads, a decline of 16.1 percent compared to 2019.

Intermodal at 6,951,086 intermodal units is down 9.6 percent while the total combined U.S. traffic for the first 29 weeks of 2020 was 13,068,254 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 12.8 percent compared to last year.

Grim Prognosis for Rail Freight Recovery

July 10, 2020

Transportation analysts speaking on a webcast this week said it is too early to tell if railroads will lose market share to trucks as they recover from the recession induced in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Analysts said during the webcast, which was sponsored by FRT Transportation Intelligence, there is evidence that trucking companies are getting back to the volume of business they had before the pandemic began last spring but rail volume remains subdued.

Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR, said some shippers who were upset with Class 1 railroads before the pandemic might have taken advantage of a “loose” trucking market to shift some business there.

But Tranausky said it is still too early to say if railroads will lose market share to truckers as they did following the Great Recession of 2008.

He said railroads will rebuild market share if they can continue to provide consistent service of a quality similar to what they are offering now.

Rail freight carloads have risen since May but remain at about 85 percent of their pre-pandemic levels.

One advantage truckers have is they can haul industrial materials and consumer products. The latter are less likely to travel by rail.

Until manufacturing picks up, rail carload volumes will continue to lag. FTR analysts do not expect rail carload volume to recover through the rest of 2020 because industrial production has been slow to return.

Another factor is that truck capacity is expected to continue to be below capacity through at least May 2021, something that is not good news for railroad intermodal business.

“That’s going to make it harder for intermodal to be competitive,” Tranausky said.

Looming on the horizon may be another wave of business shutdowns and dimming consumer demand due to surging COVID-19 infection rates in several states.

Those could threaten the U.S. economy and hurt freight volumes.