Intermodal traffic remains strong while carload traffic is slightly down

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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Intermodal traffic remains strong while carload traffic is slightly down.
Norfolk Southern

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that since the pandemic has forced many people to work from home (if they are able to do so), this is driving a significant increase in the amount of goods imported from China. Instead of spending money on vacations, these consumers have been buying toys for children, goods needed for household renovation and redecorating projects, along with other items needed around the home. Many of these items are manufactured in China. This is likely reflected in the continued strength of intermodal traffic. The Times also reported that China released November figures that show the country has a $75.43 billion trade surplus. Today’s Association of American Railroads (AAR) press release provides detailed information on North American rail traffic for the week ending December 12, 2020.

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending December 12, 2020.

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 546,209 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.9 percent compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending December 12 were 238,193 carloads, down 2.2 percent compared with the same week in 2019, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 308,016 containers and trailers, up 11.1 percent compared to 2019.

Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2019. They were grain, up 7,613 carloads, to 28,390; chemicals, up 1,679 carloads, to 32,591; and farm products excl. grain, and food, up 525 carloads, to 15,978. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2019 included 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, down 13.3 percent from the same point last year; and 12,946,162 intermodal units, down 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, a decrease of 7.8 percent compared to last year.

North American rail volume for the week ending December 12, 2020, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 344,932 carloads, down 0.2 percent compared with the same week last year, and 398,504 intermodal units, up 9.0 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 743,436 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 50 weeks of 2020 was 32,766,272 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.2 percent compared with 2019.

Canadian railroads reported 86,457 carloads for the week, up 5.3 percent, and 75,479 intermodal units, up 8.5 percent compared with the same week in 2019. For the first 50 weeks of 2020, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,220,154 carloads, containers and trailers, down 4.5 percent.

Mexican railroads reported 20,282 carloads for the week, up 0.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 15,009 intermodal units, down 19.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 50 weeks of 2020 was 1,736,008 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 9.8 percent from the same point last year.

Categories: Class 1, Freight, Intermodal, News, Railroad News
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