Total U.S. weekly rail traffic remains down, but intermodal shows glimmer of strength

Written by Press Release
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NS CEO Jim Squires to retire; Alan Shaw will succeed him.
David C. Lester

Ed. Note: It’s too early to tell, but could we be seeing a glimmer of hope in intermodal traffic? The week ending August 15 is the second week in a row that U.S. intermodal traffic has shown an approximate 2 percent increase compared to the same week in 2019. And, for the week ending July 25, Canadian railroads saw an 0.2 percent uptick in intermodal. These are miniscule increases, to be sure. However, they are not negative numbers, which is certainly an improvement. Given everything that’s going on these days, both inside and outside the industry, these small intermodal increases are a hopeful sign, even if they’ve only appeared for a couple of weeks. DCL

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending August 15, 2020.

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 500,563 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.9 percent compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending August 15 were 222,353 carloads, down 15.9 percent compared with the same week in 2019, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 278,210 containers and trailers, up 1.9 percent compared to 2019.

One of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2019. It was grain, up 2,791 carloads, to 22,582. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2019 included coal, down 26,473 carloads, to 58,871; nonmetallic minerals, down 7,396 carloads, to 30,437; and metallic ores and metals, down 4,653 carloads, to 18,998.

For the first 33 weeks of 2020, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 6,992,726 carloads, down 16.2 percent from the same point last year; and 8,042,787 intermodal units, down 8.4 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 33 weeks of 2020 was 15,035,513 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 12.2 percent compared to last year.

North American rail volume for the week ending August 15, 2020, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 315,346 carloads, down 14 percent compared with the same week last year, and 364,630 intermodal units, down 1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 679,976 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 33 weeks of 2020 was 20,729,296 carloads and intermodal units, down 11.3 percent compared with 2019.

Canadian railroads reported 73,488 carloads for the week, down 9.6 percent, and 69,963 intermodal units, down 8.2 percent compared with the same week in 2019. For the first 33 weeks of 2020, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 4,572,449 carloads, containers and trailers, down 8.5 percent.

Mexican railroads reported 19,505 carloads for the week, down 7.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 16,457 intermodal units, down 14.1 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 33 weeks of 2020 was 1,121,334 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 10.8 percent from the same point last year.

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