The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending November 27, 2021, as well as volumes for November 2021.

U.S. railroads originated 917,787 carloads in November 2021, up 2 percent, or 17,996 carloads, from November 2020. U.S. railroads also originated 1,028,039 containers and trailers in November 2021, down 9.6 percent, or 108,705 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in November 2021 were 1,945,826, down 4.5 percent, or 90,709 carloads and intermodal units from November 2020.

In November 2021, 12 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with November 2020. These included: coal, up 20,731 carloads or 8.6 percent; chemicals, up 5,563 carloads or 4.4 percent; and crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 5,067 carloads or 7.4 percent. Commodities that saw declines in November 2021 from November 2020 included: motor vehicles & parts, down 8,186 carloads or 14.1 percent; grain, down 7,901 carloads or 7.4 percent; and all other carloads, down 3,355 carloads or 14.6 percent.

“Fifteen of the 20 carload categories we track have seen year-to-date carload increases on U.S. railroads through November,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “Coal leads the way, with carloads up more than 11%, or nearly 306,000 carloads, mainly because the price of natural gas to electricity generators has doubled since the beginning of the year. Chemicals, grain and commodities related to steelmaking have also all showed solid carload growth this year.”

Excluding coal, carloads were down 2,735 carloads, or 0.4 percent, in November 2021 from November 2020. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 5,166 carloads, or 0.9 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 11 months of 2021 was 10,874,439 carloads, up 7 percent, or 710,728 carloads, from the same period last year; and 12,917,662 intermodal units, up 6.4 percent, or 775,257 containers and trailers, from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 47 weeks of 2021 was 23,792,101 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 6.7 percent compared to last year.

Week Ending November 27, 2021

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 430,793 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.8 percent compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending November 27 were 209,091 carloads, up 1.6 percent compared with the same week in 2020, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 221,702 containers and trailers, down 10.1 percent compared to 2020.

Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020. They included coal, up 4,410 carloads, to 63,947; chemicals, up 1,393 carloads, to 30,015; and nonmetallic minerals, up 1,097 carloads, to 23,270. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2020 included grain, down 1,380 carloads, to 23,616; motor vehicles and parts, down 1,295 carloads, to 10,700; and miscellaneous carloads, down 944 carloads, to 6,393.

North American rail volume for the week ending November 27, 2021, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 295,807 carloads, down 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 281,953 intermodal units, down 16.1 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 577,760 carloads and intermodal units, down 10.5 percent. North American rail volume for the first 47 weeks of 2021 was 32,411,379 carloads and intermodal units, up 5.5 percent compared with 2020.

Canadian railroads reported 66,506 carloads for the week, down 18.9 percent, and 46,106 intermodal units, down 38.4 percent compared with the same week in 2020. For the first 47 weeks of 2021, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,916,883 carloads, containers and trailers, up 2.1 percent.

Mexican railroads reported 20,210 carloads for the week, down 6.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 14,145 intermodal units, down 3.6 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 47 weeks of 2021 was 1,702,395 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.6 percent from the same point last year.