Posts Tagged ‘John Gray’

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.

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.

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.

Intermodal Traffic Fell 6.7% in September

October 7, 2021

Figures released by the Association of American Railroads on Wednesday confirmed what has been apparent for several weeks.

Intermodal traffic on U.S. Class 1 railroads is struggling, falling by 6.7 percent in September compared with the same month in 2020.

“Rail intermodal volume is clearly not what it has been and could be,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray.

“Keeping intermodal terminals functioning smoothly and at full capacity depends on consistent freight outflows to make room for new freight inflows,” Gray said.

“Unfortunately, due to limited availability of downstream truck and warehouse capacity, that’s not happening right now with predictable impacts on rail intermodal volume. There is no single solution to this problem, but railroads are bringing intermodal yard capacity back online to increase storage availability as well as working with customers and truckers to accelerate container pickup, among other efforts.

Otherwise, rail freight traffic at Class 1 railroads is trending upward with the carriers reporting having handled 1,167,682 carloads in September 2021, an increase of 4.3 percent (or 47,858 carloads) compared with September 2020.

Railroads hauled 1,328,527 containers and trailers, a decline of 95,317 units compared with last year.

Total carload and intermodal originations for September was 2,496,209, down 1.9 percent (or 47,459 carloads and intermodal units) compared with the same month last year.

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

These included: coal, up 40,954 carloads or 13.7 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, up 11,107 carloads or 12.5 percent; and primary metal products, up 8,675 carloads or 22.4 percent.

Losing ground last month were motor vehicles and parts, down 22,486 carloads or 27.6 percent; grain, down 17,312 carloads or 14.7 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,616 carloads or 3.1 percent.

Excluding coal, carloads increased by 6,904, or 0.8 percent, in September 2021 compared with. September 2020.  Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 24,216, or 3.5 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first nine months of 2021 was 9,009,639, an increase of 7.9 percent, or 658,222 carloads;, and 10,812,108 intermodal units, a 9.9 percent rise, or 976,362 containers and trailers.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 39 weeks of the year was 19,821,747 carloads and intermodal units, up 9 percent from the same period in 2020.

U.S. Freight Traffic Up 14.5% in June

July 8, 2021

U.S. railroads in June originated 1,175,232 carloads and increase of 19.1 percent or 188,164 carloads compared with June 2021.

Intermodal traffic for the month was 1,386,745 containers and trailers, a rise of 10.9 percent or 136,634 units over the same month in 2020.

Combined originations for June were 2,561,977, up 14.5 percent, or 324,798 carloads and intermodal units over June 2020.

AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray said the June figures were part of a second quarter performance that “reflect an economy that is in much better shape than it was but still has room to grow.”

AAR said that second-quarter carloads were the highest since the fourth quarter of 2019. Excluding coal they were the highest since the third quarter of 2019.

Gray said intermodal and chemical volumes were “both the highest for any quarter in history.” The AAR report said steel-related commodities were “relatively strong in the second quarter, reflecting higher demand as the industrial economy continues to recover.”

Of the 20 carload categories AAR tracks each month, 19 posted gains last month.

They included: coal, up 84,109 carloads or 33.5 percent; chemicals, up 22,660 carloads or 16 percent; and metallic ores, up 20,228 carloads or 164.6 percent. Only farm products excluding grain posted a decline by falling 425 carloads or 10.6 percent.

Excluding coal, carloads were up 104,055 carloads, or 14.1 percent. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 100,564 carloads, or 15.9 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first six months of 2021 was 6,002,525 carloads, up 9.4 percent, or 517,580 carloads, and 7,332,067 intermodal units, up 17.5 percent, or 1,093,832 containers and trailers, from 2020.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 26 weeks the year was 13,334,592 carloads and intermodal units, a 13.7 percent boost from 2020.

Rail Freight Up 5.3% in January

February 4, 2021

U.S. railroad freight traffic in January was up 5.3 percent compared to the same month in 2020.

Combined carload and intermodal originations were 2,103,523, or 106,749 carloads and intermodal units higher than last year.

Railroads originated 1,173,220 containers and trailers, increasing 12.1 percent, or 126,548 units, compared with January 2020.

They originated 930,303 carloads for the month, falling 2.1 percent, or 19,799 carloads, from January 2020.

 “We are encouraged by rail volumes in January,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement.

“U.S. intermodal shipments and carloads of chemicals set new records; grain had its biggest-ever year-over-year increase; total carloads were the highest they’ve been in a year; and carloads excluding coal actually grew year-over-year for the second straight month.”

Gray said the economy still faces uncertainty but he is cautiously optimistic about the future.

Ten of 20 carload groups posted gains in January 2021.

Grain accounted for an additional 31,434 carloads, a 40 percent increase. Gray said it was the largest increase on a year-over-year comparison.

Excluding coal, carloads increased on a year-over-year basis for the second month.

They were up by 15,557, or 2.3 percent, in January 2021 compared with January 2020.

Carloads excluding coal and grain, however, were down by 15,877, or 2.7 percent.

Also posting increases during January were chemicals, up 5,717 carloads or 4.4 percent; and metallic ores, up 5,190 carloads or 28.7 percent.

Commodities that fell included coal, down 35,356 carloads or 12.7 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, down 14,097 carloads or 18.9 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 6,529 carloads or 12.1 percent.

U.S. Rail Traffic Fell 7.2% in 2020

January 7, 2021

The tally for 2020 is now complete.

U.S. railroad hauled 25,157,476 carloads and intermodal units last year, a decline of 7.2 percent compared to 2019.

The Association of American Railroads said carload traffic for the year was 11,482,059 units, down 12.9 percent. The railroad s hauled 13,675,417 containers and trailers, a decline of 1.8 percent.

Most of the decline has been attributed to an economic downturn prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but not all of it.

AAR Senior Vice President John Gray said in a statement that before the pandemic deepened last March, railroads were on “less than ideal footing” due to a weakened manufacturing sector and lower port activity caused by trade disputes.

Despite enjoying near-record traffic declines during the early months of 2020, U.S. railroads rallied to close the year with volume close to pre-pandemic levels.

Gray said that was due to sharply higher grain and intermodal shipments, along with the reopening of auto assembly plants.

“It’s no surprise that rail volumes were down for the year overall, but railroads are looking to the future,” Gray said.

“Their experience in 2020 along with huge ongoing network investments have made the industry more adaptable and better able to adjust to the demands of a wide range of operational and market conditions. Railroads are well prepared to help our economy grow in 2021.”

AAR said that during December U.S. railroads hauled 2,435,819 carloads and intermodal units, a 4.4 percent increase compared with December 2019.

Total carloads fell 3.7 percent to 1,101,324 units during the month, while intermodal volume rose 12.2 percent to 1,334,495 containers and trailers.

Ten of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by AAR each month saw carload gains in December.

These included grain, up 27.9 percent; chemicals, up 3.7 percent; and iron and steel scrap, up 12.9 percent.

Posting declines were coal, down 14.5 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, down 14.8 percent; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 15.8 percent.

Weekly Freight Loss Slightly Smaller

May 28, 2020

The latest weekly freight volume report contained a small bit of encouraging news.

For the week ending May 23, freight volume was down by double digits, but not down as much as it has been in previous reports.

AAR said weekly rail traffic was 428,715 carloads and intermodal units, down 19.2 percent when compared with the same week of 2019.

Total carloads were 190,639 carloads, down 27 percent compared with 2019 while intermodal volume was 238,076 containers and trailers, down 11.2 percent compared to 2019.

None of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2019.

Among the weekly declines when comparing 2020 to 2019 were coal, down 32,660 carloads, to 46,863; motor vehicles and parts, down 12,171 carloads, to 4,874; and metallic ores and metals, down 8,733 carloads, to 14,805.

“Of the 20 carload categories we track, 15 had modestly higher loadings last week than the week before, led by motor vehicles and grain,” said AAR senior vice president John Gray.

Gray said intermodal originations were higher last week than in any of the previous 11 weeks.

“While we can’t yet say whether rail traffic and, by extension, the economy, have turned a corner, these are all encouraging signs,” he said.

“As areas across the country begin to reopen over the next several weeks, perhaps we can start looking for light at the end of what has become a rather long tunnel.”

For the first 21 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,533,784 carloads, down 14.3 percent from the same point last year; and 4,970,889 intermodal units, down 11.3 percent from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 21 weeks of 2020 was 9,504,673 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 12.8 percent compared to last year.

Rail Freight Decline Largest Since 1988

May 21, 2020

Rail freight traffic continued to fall in the week ending May 16 reaching levels of decline not seen since 1988.

The Association of American Railroads said railroads handled 416,115 carloads and intermodal units last week, a drop of 22 percent compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week were 184,415 carloads, down 30.2 percent compared with the same week in 2019, while intermodal volume was 231,700 containers and trailers, down 14 percent.

None of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2019.

Commodity groups that fell compared with the same week in 2019 included coal, down 35,879 carloads, to 45,756; motor vehicles and parts, down 14,242 carloads, to 2,865; and metallic ores and metals, down 9,245 carloads, to 14,101.

AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray said in a statement it was the fifth straight week in which coal carloads were down at least 40 percent from last year.

“For many other key rail commodities, including chemicals, petroleum products, and crushed stone and sand, carloads last week were roughly the same as in the previous few weeks, while intermodal originations last week were the most in eight weeks,” Gray said.

For the first 20 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 4,343,145 carloads, down 13.6 percent from the same point last year, and 4,732,813 intermodal units, down 11.4 percent from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 20 weeks of 2020 was 9,075,958 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 12.5 percent compared to last year.