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AAR: April Rail Carloads and Intermodal Down Year-over-year

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by Calculated Risk on 5/06/2022 03:46:00 PM

From the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Rail Time Indicators. Graphs and excerpts reprinted with permission.

U.S. rail traffic in April 2022 was like a box of assorted chocolates: it had something for everyone.
Optimists can point to several commodities that had solid traffic gains. For example, April 2022 was the
third best month ever for carloads of chemicals, with carloads up 3.4% over last year. April’s carloads of
iron and steel scrap were the highest since August 2013, while carloads of autos and auto parts were
up 12.0% over last year. Carloads of food products and crushed stone and sand were also up.

Pessimists can point to several traffic categories with lower volumes in April. For example,
carloads of grain in April were the fewest in seven months, coal carloads were the lowest in more than
a year, and carloads of petroleum products were their second lowest since September 2017.
emphasis added

Click on graph for larger image.

This graph from the Rail Time Indicators report shows the six-week average of U.S. Carloads in 2020, 2021 and 2022:

Total carloads on U.S. railroads fell 3.4% in April
2022 from April 2021, their second monthly decline so far
this year following 10 straight monthly gains from March
to December 2021. For 2022 through April, total carloads
were up 1.1% over the same period in 2021.

The second graph shows the six-week average (not monthly) of U.S. intermodal in 2020, 2021 and 2022: (using intermodal or shipping containers):

U.S. railroads originated an average of 270,788
intermodal containers and trailers per week in April 2022.
That’s the most since August 2021, but down 7.7% from
April 2021. For context, April 2021 was the best
intermodal month in history for U.S. railroads.
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