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The prior two U.S. weekly rail traffic totals were up similarly from the same period in 2020, while the May U.S. weekly totals saw increases of about 25% to 35% over 2020. So while the recovery remains under way, the gains may be leveling off, or perhaps slowing a bit.
Following are the U.S. weekly rail traffic figures for the past six weeks:
• For the week ending June 12, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic reached 529,635 carloads and intermodal units (a 17.9% increase from the prior-year period), including 241,628 carloads (up 21.8% from 2020) and 288,007 containers and trailers (up 14.8% from 2020). • For the week ending June 5, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic was 489,144 carloads and intermodal units (up 12.9% from the same point in 2020), with 227,497 carloads (rising 18.1% from 2020) and 261,647 containers and trailers (increasing 8.7% from 2020). • For the week ending May 29, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic came in at 530,225 carloads and intermodal units (a 34% gain over the prior-year period), including 243,304 carloads (up 35.3% vs. 2020) and 286,921 intermodal units (up 33% vs. 2020). • For the week ending May 22, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic was 528,774 (up 23.4% from the same point in 2020), with 242,227 carloads (a 27.2% increase) and 286,547 containers and trailers (a 20.4% boost). • For the week ending May 15, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic was 533,872 (up 28.3% from the same week last year), including 242,806 carloads (up 31.6%) and 291,066 intermodal containers and trailers (up 25.6%). • For the week ending May 8, 2021, total U.S. rail traffic reached 523,309 (a 26.9% increase over the comparable 2020 period), with 236,019 carloads (up 27.6%) and 287,290 intermodal units (up 26.3%).
AAR’s June 23, 2021 report noted that percentage changes for some rail traffic categories for the current week (ending June 19) are “inflated.” This is due to the widespread pandemic-related “shutdowns—and subsequent large reduction in rail volumes—that impacted many economic sectors last year at this time.” The AAR first included this statement in its March 24, 2021 report, when it provided data on Week 11 (ending March 20), marking one year of COVID-19-related traffic disruption.
(For a 2020 traffic roundup, see “AAR: ‘Railroads Looking to the Future.’”)
Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase for the week ending June 19, 2021, compared with the same week in 2020. They included coal, up 15,512 carloads, to 67,819; metallic ores and metals, up 9,302 carloads, to 23,726; and chemicals, up 3,990 carloads, to 32,401. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2020 were grain, down 1,820 carloads, to 19,617; miscellaneous carloads, down 478 carloads, to 9,290; and motor vehicles and parts, down 303 carloads, to 12,534.
For the first 24 weeks of 2021, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,528,562 carloads, an 8.6% boost from the prior-year period; and 6,776,944 intermodal units, a 18.2% gain from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 24 weeks of 2021 was 12,305,506 carloads and intermodal units, rising 13.7% vs. 2020.
North American rail volume for the week ending June 19, 2021, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 329,907 carloads, a rise of 11.3% compared with the same week last year, and 369,258 intermodal units, an increase of 10% over last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 699,165 carloads and intermodal units, up 10.6%. North American rail volume for the first 24 weeks of the year was 16,805,420 carloads and intermodal units, up 12.1% compared with 2020.
Canadian railroads reported 76,464 carloads for the week, increasing 5.9%, and 72,001 intermodal units, gaining 11.7% vs. the same week in 2020. For the first 24 weeks of 2021, they reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,635,383 carloads, containers and trailers, up 9%.
Mexican railroads reported 21,299 carloads for the week, down 5.2% vs. the comparable period last year, and 15,289 intermodal units, down 2.9%. Their cumulative volume for the first 24 weeks of 2021 was 864,531 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.3% from the same point last year.
This article first appeared on www.railwayage.com
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