U.S. Weekly Rail Traffic Decreases 9.1 Percent

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has reported that U.S. rail traffic for the week ending March 7, 2020, totaled 462,303 carloads and intermodal units, a 9.1 percent decrease compared to 2019.

U.S. carloads, which totaled 229,742 for the week, were down 3.5 percent compared to the same week last year. U.S. intermodal volume for the week totaled 232,561 units, down 14.1 percent compared to 2019.

“Comparing rail traffic from one week to another must be done with caution because many different factors can come into play, especially in the winter when the weather can play a big role,” remarked John T. Gray, AAR senior vice president. “That said, rail intermodal loadings last week were down noticeably more than the norm over the past year. With the number of ships arriving at West Coast ports from Asia down sharply due to the coronavirus, it stands to reason that railroads are beginning to feel an impact too, at least in terms of intermodal. It’s impossible to quantify that impact with precision.”

Eight of the 10 carload commodity groups that are tracked by the AAR posted an increase for the week ending March 7, 2020, when compared with the same week in 2019. Chemicals increased 2,050 carloads to 33,419, and petroleum and petroleum products were up 1,984 carloads to 12,641. Grain increased 1,731carloads to 20,863.

Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2019 included coal, down 17,877 carloads to 58,659, and metallic ores and metals, down 190 carloads to 19,672.

On the 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads, combined North American rail volume for the week ending March 7, 2020, was 647,068 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.4 percent.