United States rail carload and intermodal volumes, the month of February, were mixed annually, according to data issued this week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Rail carloads—at 824,636—were down 11.1%, or 102,972 carloads, AAR noted. And three of the 20 carload commodity groups it tracks saw annual gains, including: grain, up 12,342 carloads or 15.7 percent; pulp & paper products, up 578 carloads or 2.8 percent; and metallic ores, up 221 carloads or 1.4 percent.
When excluding coal, carloads were off 71,135 carloads, or 10.6%, annually, and when excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 83,477 carloads, or 14%.
Commodities that saw declines in February 2021 from February 2020 included: coal, down 31,837 carloads or 12.5 percent; crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 24,320 carloads or 33 percent; and motor vehicles & parts, down 14,336 carloads or 20.4 percent.
Intermodal containers and trailers—at 1,015,995—increased 1.8%, or 18,184 units annually, in February. Cumulative February U.S. carload and intermodal originations, at 1,840,631, were off 4.4%, or 84,788 carloads and intermodal units annually.
“During February, snow and ice covered wide swaths of the country, including many areas that rarely see harsh winter weather wreaking havoc on all forms of transportation, including rail,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “In fact, the total U.S. rail carloads in the third week of February were the lowest for any week in AAR’s records that go back to 1988. While carloads rebounded during the last week to a more typical level, February ended with noticeably lower total volumes. On the positive side, both intermodal and grain traffic remained relatively strong through three of the four weeks of the month.”
Through the first two months of 2020, total U.S. carload traffic—at 1,754,939 carloads—was down 6.5%, or 122,771 carloads, annually. And intermodal units—at 2,189,215— was up 7.1%, or 144,732 containers and trailers, annually.
For the week ending February 27, AAR reported that U.S. carloads—at 215,181—were off 8.5% annually, with intermodal units up 11.6%, to 271,248.