The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 28, 2020, as well as volumes for November 2020.
U.S. railroads originated 900,194 carloads in November 2020, down 5.8 percent, or 55,198 carloads, from November 2019. U.S. railroads also originated 1,136,695 containers and trailers in November 2020, up 11.5 percent, or 116,915 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in November 2020 were 2,036,889, up 3.1 percent, or 61,717 carloads and intermodal units from November 2019.
In November 2020, nine of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with November 2019. These included: grain, up 20,026 carloads or 23.1 percent; chemicals, up 4,153 carloads or 3.4 percent; and grain mill products, up 1,821 carloads or 5.3 percent. Commodities that saw declines in November 2020 from November 2019 included: coal, down 49,251 carloads or 16.9 percent; petroleum & petroleum products, down 10,227 carloads or 19.9 percent; and crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 7,819 carloads or 10.3 percent.
“U.S. rail traffic continued to make up lost ground in November,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Excluding coal, total U.S. rail carloads are now very close to where they were before the pandemic hit with grain volumes approaching record highs due to soybean exports. Meanwhile, U.S. intermodal volumes have seen near record highs the past couple months due to both import volumes and internet purchasing by consumers. Railroads join everyone else in hoping that the recent surge in COVID-19 infection rates across the country recedes quickly and that our nation can return to a path of improved personal and economic health.”
Excluding coal, carloads were down 5,947 carloads, or 0.9 percent, in November 2020 from November 2019. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 25,973 carloads, or 4.5 percent.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 11 months of 2020 was 10,380,769 carloads, down 13.8 percent, or 1,663,263 carloads, from the same period last year; and 12,340,929 intermodal units, down 3.1 percent, or 400,753 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 48 weeks of 2020 was 22,721,698 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 8.3 percent compared to last year.
Week Ending November 28, 2020
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 452,792 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.7 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending November 28 were 206,288 carloads, down 4.1 percent compared with the same week in 2019, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 246,504 containers and trailers, up 11.2 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 4,690 carloads, to 25,099; chemicals, up 898 carloads, to 28,628; and farm products excl. grain, and food, up 293 carloads, to 14,519. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2019 included coal, down 7,973 carloads, to 59,775; petroleum and petroleum products, down 2,910 carloads, to 9,071; and nonmetallic minerals, down 1,770 carloads, to 22,173.
North American rail volume for the week ending November 28, 2020, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 308,361 carloads, up 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 335,532 intermodal units, up 9.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 643,893 carloads and intermodal units, up 5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 48 weeks of 2020 was 31,279,588 carloads and intermodal units, down 7.7 percent compared with 2019.
Canadian railroads reported 81,713 carloads for the week, up 15.5 percent, and 74,960 intermodal units, up 9.4 percent compared with the same week in 2019. For the first 48 weeks of 2020, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,899,077 carloads, containers and trailers, down 4.9 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 20,360 carloads for the week, up 0.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 14,068 intermodal units, down 17.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 48 weeks of 2020 was 1,658,813 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 10.2 percent from the same point last year.