When will carload traffic begin to show an increase?

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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AAR released traffic report for week ending Feb. 6, 2021.
David C. Lester

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending February 6, 2021.

Ed. Note: For as many weeks as I can recall, the weekly Association of American Railroads’ weekly traffic report has displayed the same pattern. Total carloads (includes carloads and intermodal) are slightly up, carloads are slightly down, and intermodal is up by a significant percentage. It’s the same story this week. When will carloads begin to show an increase? That’s a hard question to answer as long as the pandemic looms as a daily challenge to our nation and the rest of the world. However, given all that has happened, we should be thankful that the numbers are relatively good. DCL

Weekly traffic report

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 495,815 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.2 percent compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending February 6 were 226,393 carloads, down 2.5 percent compared with the same week in 2020, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 269,422 containers and trailers, up 6.4 percent compared to 2020.

Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020. They included grain, up 5,070 carloads, to 25,951; chemicals, up 909 carloads, to 33,581; and farm products excluding grain, and food, up 551 carloads, to 16,801. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2020 included coal, down 4,936 carloads, to 60,071; nonmetallic minerals, down 3,530 carloads, to 24,821; and miscellaneous carloads, down 1,546 carloads, to 9,321.

For the first five weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,156,696 carloads, down 2.2 percent from the same point last year; and 1,442,642 intermodal units, up 11 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first five weeks of 2021 was 2,599,338 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 4.7 percent compared to last year.

North American rail volume for the week ending February 6, 2021, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 320,658 carloads, down 2.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 354,269 intermodal units, up 6.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 674,927 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first five weeks of 2021 was 3,529,114 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.9 percent compared with 2020.

Canadian railroads reported 77,309 carloads for the week, up 1.1 percent, and 71,036 intermodal units, up 15.2 percent compared with the same week in 2020. For the first five weeks of 2021, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 768,953 carloads, containers and trailers, up 5.9 percent.

Mexican railroads reported 16,956 carloads for the week, down 15.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 13,811 intermodal units, down 21.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first five weeks of 2021 was 160,823 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 15.3 percent from the same point last year.

Detailed statistics

Categories: Freight, Intermodal, News, Railroad News
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