The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending October 1, 2022, as well as volumes for September 2022.
U.S. railroads originated 928,590 carloads in September 2022, down 1.1 percent, or 10,639 carloads, from September 2021. U.S. railroads also originated 1,011,304 containers and trailers in September 2022, down 4.8 percent, or 51,039 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in September 2022 were 1,939,894, down 3.1 percent, or 61,678 carloads and intermodal units from September 2021.
In September 2022, six of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with September 2021. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 8,987 carloads or 11.2 percent; motor vehicles & parts, up 8,380 carloads or 18 percent; and coal, up 4,886 carloads or 1.8 percent. Commodities that saw declines in September 2022 from September 2021 included: primary metal products, down 6,341 carloads or 16.6 percent; all other carloads, down 4,879 carloads or 21 percent; and grain, down 4,227 carloads or 5 percent.
“During September, intermodal slowed as consumers continued to switch consumption more toward services and away from goods,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. "However, two underlying factors have helped magnify this trend for railroads. The first is overbuying by many retailers in late 2020 and during 2021 that is now being reflected in substantial inventories of unsold goods that weakens replacement demand. Meanwhile, a slackening of internet buying from its pandemic peak, has softened trailer movements of packaged goods by rail.”
Excluding coal, carloads were down 15,525 carloads, or 2.3 percent, in September 2022 from September 2021. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 11,298 carloads, or 1.9 percent.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first nine months of 2022 was 9,019,302 carloads, up 0.1 percent, or 9,791 carloads, from the same period last year; and 10,259,554 intermodal units, down 5.1 percent, or 552,271 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 39 weeks of 2022 was 19,278,856 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 2.7 percent compared to last year.
Week Ending October 1, 2022
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 495,868 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.9 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending October 1 were 234,420 carloads, down 3.1 percent compared with the same week in 2021, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 261,448 containers and trailers, down 4.6 percent compared to 2021.
Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2021. They included coal, up 2,551 carloads, to 67,866; motor vehicles and parts, up 1,334 carloads, to 14,606; and petroleum and petroleum products, up 626 carloads, to 10,449. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2021 included grain, down 3,225 carloads, to 22,745; metallic ores and metals, down 2,595 carloads, to 21,450; and miscellaneous carloads, down 2,389 carloads, to 8,056.
North American rail volume for the week ending October 1, 2022, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 337,140 carloads, down 0.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 350,834 intermodal units, down 1.3 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 687,974 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.1 percent. North American rail volume for the first 39 weeks of 2022 was 26,388,292 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.3 percent compared with 2021.
Canadian railroads reported 83,364 carloads for the week, up 1.1 percent, and 74,230 intermodal units, up 6.2 percent compared with the same week in 2021. For the first 39 weeks of 2022, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,657,074 carloads, containers and trailers, down 2.3 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 19,356 carloads for the week, up 24.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 15,156 intermodal units, up 29.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 39 weeks of 2022 was 1,452,362 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3 percent from the same point last year.