Posts Tagged ‘railroad freight volume’

Rail Freight Up 29.1% in April

May 6, 2021

The Association of American Railroads said this week that some rail freight traffic that lost volume during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has now “completely recovered.”

AAR Senior Vice President John Gray said in a statement that some other commodities are close to recovering lost ground.

“For example, April set a new all-time record for intermodal, driven by surging international trade and strong consumer spending,” Gray said.

“Meanwhile, carloads of grain, food, lumber, paper, scrap metal and several other categories were higher in April 2021 than they were in both April 2020 and in April 2019. Carloads of chemicals and steel in April 2021 were much higher than last year and just shy of April 2019 levels.”

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in April were 2,125,792, up 29.1 percent, or 478,818 carloads and intermodal units compared with April 2020,

Seventeen of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with April 2020. 

These included coal, up 55,929 carloads or 28.7 percent; motor vehicles and parts, up 38,891 carloads or 465.9 percent; and chemicals, up 17,201 carloads or 14.8 percent.

Declines were seen by crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 823 carloads or 1 percent; primary forest products, down 124 carloads or 2.9 percent; and farm products excluding grain, down 74 carloads or 1.9 percent.

Excluding coal, carloads were up 126,131 carloads, or 21.9 percent, last month versus the same month in 2020. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 109,124 carloads, or 22.4 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first four months of 2021 was 3,862,937 carloads, up 2.8 percent, or 104,793 carloads, from the same period last year; and 4,793,498 intermodal units, up 17.6 percent, or 718,271 containers and trailers.

Class 1 Systems Saw Traffic Gains in 1st Quarter

April 9, 2021

Impressive gains in intermodal traffic helped North America’s Class 1 railroads systems post volume gains during the first quarter of 2021.

Industry observers say a surge in retailers seeking to restock shelves has boosted interemodal volume.

That was welcome news for railroads because the first quarter saw them see suffer slight declines in carload volume.

Among the seven Class 1 systems, Canadian National came out on top with an 8.2 percent increase in overall volume compared with the same period in 2020.

However a mitigating factor in CN’s case is that it looks good compared with last year because this year it didn’t have to deal with illegal blockades of its tracks that lasted for weeks.

Norfolk Southern posted a 5 percent volume gain fueled largely by 8 percent intermodal growth and a nearly 5 percent rise in coal traffic.

At CSX traffic was up nearly 3 percent, led by a 12.3 percent boost in intermodal business.

CSX and NS alike enjoyed increased traffic from East Coast ports as well as parcel traffic related to e-commerce.

Traffic gains for other Class 1 railroads included BNSF, 7.3 percent and Union Pacific, 1 percent. Canadian Pacific’s first quarter traffic traffic was flat compared with last year’s first quarter, when it had a 10 percent gain partly due to picking up some traffic that could not move on CN during the blockades.

 “When much of the economy shut down around this time last year, rail volumes plummeted too. We have to take that into account when comparing rail traffic this year to last year,” said Association of American Railroads Senior Vice President John T. Gray.

“That said, rail traffic has clearly rebounded from last year’s depths. Looking ahead, rail volumes are highly correlated with manufacturing output, so recent signs of strength in manufacturing are good signs for railroads too.”

Rail Traffic Continued Gains Last Week

March 18, 2021

U.S. carload and intermodal traffic continued to see gains last week in the weekly Association of American Railroads traffic tally.

For the week ending March 13, carload traffic was up  2.1 percent while intermodal volume posted a 22.4 percent gain during the week ending March 13.

In a related development, BNSF Vice President, Consumer Products Tom G. Williams told a congressional hearing on March 10 that December 2020 and January 2021 “were the two largest months in BNSF history for moving volume direct to rail off the ports in Southern California.”

Williams said his company has recalled furloughed employees and pulled railcars and locomotives out of storage to help handle the increased freight demand.

Last week AAR said total carloads were 230,684 while intermodal volume was 290,052 containers and trailers.

The percentage increases were in comparison to the same week in 2020.

Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase vs. the comparable week in 2020.

They included coal, up 8,744 carloads, to 64,102; grain, up 3,958 carloads, to 23,939; and farm products, excluding grain, and food, up 910 carloads, to 16,766.

Seeing declines were motor vehicles and parts, down 4,258 carloads, to 14,829; chemicals, down 3,034 carloads, to 29,971; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,900 carloads, to 11,379.

For the first 10 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,218,117 carloads, a loss of 4.9 percent compared with 2020; and 2,761,908 intermodal units, a gain of 9.9 percent.

Total combined traffic for this year’s first 10 weeks was 4,980,025 carloads and intermodal units, a 2.7 percent increase over last year.

Winter Hindered U.S. Rail Freight Traffic in February

March 4, 2021

A harsh period of winter weather that brought a polar vortex also put U.S. rail freight traffic into a deep freeze during February.

“During February, snow and ice covered wide swaths of the country, including many areas that rarely see harsh winter weather wreaking havoc on all forms of transportation, including rail,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement.

Gray said total U.S. rail carloads during the third week of February were the lowest for any week in AAR’s records that go back to 1988.

“While carloads rebounded during February’s final week to a more typical level, the month ended with noticeably lower total volumes,” Gray said. “On the positive side, both intermodal and grain traffic remained relatively strong through three of the four weeks of the month.”

For the month, U.S. railroads originated 824,636 carloads in February 2021, down 11.1 percent, or 102,972 carloads compared with February 2020.

They originated 1,015,995 containers and trailers, a gain of 1.8 percent, or 18,184 units.

Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 1,840,631, a drop of 4.4 percent or 84,788 carloads and intermodal units compared with February 2020.

Three of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month posted gains.

This included grain, up 12,342 carloads or 15.7 percent; pulp and paper products, up 578 carloads or 2.8 percent; and metallic ores, up 221 carloads or 1.4 percent.

Commodities that declined during February included: coal, down 31,837 carloads or 12.5 percent; crushed stone, sand and gravel, down 24,320 carloads or 33 percent; and motor vehicles & parts, down 14,336 carloads or 20.4 percent.

Excluding coal, carloads were fell 71,135 carloads, or 10.6 percent. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 83,477 carloads, or 14 percent.

Total carload traffic for the first two months of 2021 has been 1,754,939 carloads, down 6.5 percent, or 122,771 carloads, and 2,189,215 intermodal units, up 7.1 percent, or 144,732 containers and trailers.

Total combined traffic for the first eight weeks of 2021 is 3,944,154 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 0.6 percent compared with last year.

Rail Freight Traffic Up 9% Last Week

January 28, 2021

The Association of American Railroads reported that for the week ending Jan. 27 intermodal traffic rose nearly 19 percent compared with the same period in 2020. Carload traffic, though, fell.

For the week railroads saw an increase of 9 percent with 529,030 carloads and intermodal units handled.

While intermodal gained 17.8 percent for 298,051 units last week compared to the same week in 2020, carload traffic fell 0.7 percent to 230,979.

Of the 10 carload commodity groups, five posted an increase.

This included grain, up 5,481 carloads, to 27,295; chemicals, up 846 carloads, to 32,140; and forest products, up 603 carloads, to 10,192.

Posting declines were coal, down 4,949 carloads, to 63,474; nonmetallic minerals, down 2,672 carloads, to 25,233; and petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,139 carloads, to 12,522.

For the first three weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 698,933 carloads, declining 1.4 percent from the week last year; and 883,897 intermodal units, increasing 13.6  percent from 2020.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first three weeks of the year was 1,582,830 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 6.5 percent compared with last year.

Rail Traffic Up 5.8% Last Week

January 21, 2021

U.S. rail traffic for the week ending Jan. 16 showed an increase in volume of 5.8 percent over the same week in 2020.

The Association of American Railroads said carriers handled 528,547 carloads and intermodal units last week.

Much of the increase in traffic was caused by an increase in intermodal volume, which was 295,997 containers and trailers, a 12.8 percent increase.

The 232,550 carloads handled represented a 2 percent decrease.

Five carload groups showed increases, led by grain, up 42.6 percent at 27,613 carloads.

Other seeing gains in traffic were metallic ores and metals, up 1,715 carloads, to 23,325; and farm products, excluding grain, and food, up 1,621 carloads, to 16,818.

Declines were posted by coal, down 12,609 carloads, to 57,665; nonmetallic minerals, down 4,411 carloads, to 25,582; and miscellaneous carloads, down 402 carloads, to 9,755.

For the first two weeks of the year overall traffic was up 5.2 percent with intermodal up 11.6 percent, and carloads down 1.8 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.

All Class 1 Railroads Lost Traffic in 2020

January 5, 2021

All North American Class 1 railroads lost traffic volume in 2020, but some lost more than others.

Weekly carload reports issued by the Association of American Railroads show that Canadian Pacific suffered the least loss of traffic.

CP’s volume fell 2.2 percent compared to the average 6.8 percent decline of the big six systems.

CSX posted a 5.7 percent decline in overall traffic in 2020 but also had the industry’s largest intermodal gain for the year at 1.5 percent.

Canadian National had overall volume decline of 6.1 percent. Other traffic declines posted by Class 1 carriers included Union Pacific, down 7 percent; BNSF, down 7.6 percent; and Norfolk Southern, down 11.9 percent.

NS sustained the steepest declines among Class 1 carriers in intermodal, carload, and coal traffic.

Intermodal Continued its Hot Streak

December 31, 2020

Intermodal continued to lead the way in the latest weekly U.S. rail freight statistics released by the Association of American Railroads.

For the week ending Dec. 26 intermodal traffic rose 20.8 percent. AAR said the railroads last week handled 220,082 containers and trailers.

At the same time, the carriers moved 185,029 carloads for the week, a decline of 3.4 percent compare with the same week in 2019.

Bolstered by intermodal, total carload and intermodal traffic was 405,111 units, an increase of 8.4 percent.

Four individual carload commodities posted gains led by grain, which was up 40.2 percent while motor vehicles and parts rose 19.2 percent.

Coal fell by 9,611 carloads to 50,742; metallic ores and metals were down 1,589 carloads to 18,330, and chemicals were down 1,394 carloads to 27,479.

Combined Rail Traffic Up 4.9% Last Week

December 17, 2020

American Association of American Railroads figures show that U.S. weekly rail traffic for the week ending Dec. 12 was 546,209 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with the same week in 2019.

Total carloads were 238,193, down 2.2 percent, while intermodal volume was 308,016 containers and trailers, up 11.1 percent compared with 2019.

Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase over the 2019 figures.

They included grain, up 7,613 carloads, to 28,390; chemicals, up 1,679 carloads, to 32,591; and farm products excluding grain, and food, up 525 carloads, to 15,978.

Decreases were posted by coal, down 8,651 carloads, to 63,777; petroleum and petroleum products, down 2,252 carloads, to 11,485; and metallic ores and metals, down 1,854 carloads, to 20,765.

For the first 50 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 10,863,948 carloads, a decrease of 13.3 percent from the same point last year; and 12,946,162 intermodal units, a decline of 2.6 percent from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 50 weeks of 2020 was 23,810,110 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.8 percent compared with last year.