The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending January 28, 2023, as well as volumes for January 2023.
U.S. railroads originated 923,696 carloads in January 2023, up 2.2 percent, or 19,827 carloads, from January 2022. U.S. railroads also originated 919,928 containers and trailers in January 2023, down 8.1 percent, or 81,443 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in January 2023 were 1,843,624, down 3.2 percent, or 61,616 carloads and intermodal units from January 2022.
In January 2023, 12 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with January 2022. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 14,694 carloads or 22.6 percent; coal, up 11,953 carloads or 4.6 percent; and motor vehicles & parts, up 6,293 carloads or 13.4 percent. Commodities that saw declines in January 2023 from January 2022 included: chemicals, down 15,641 carloads or 11.4 percent; all other carloads, down 2,273 carloads or 10.3 percent; and lumber & wood products, down 1,939 carloads or 14.5 percent.
“Rail traffic began 2023 much the same way we ended 2022 -demonstrating reasons for both optimism and caution,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “For example, this was the best January for carloads of crushed stone and sand on record, largely due to the growth in domestic natural gas production and the need for frac sand. Automotive traffic, although not yet at pre-pandemic levels, had a healthy improvement over 2022. Negatively, it was the worst January for intermodal since 2013 with major retailers cutting back on inventories and consumer spending — especially on goods — having contracted.”
Excluding coal, carloads were up 7,874 carloads, or 1.2 percent, in January 2023 from January 2022. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 5,518 carloads, or 1.0 percent.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first month of 2023 was 923,696 carloads, up 2.2 percent, or 19,827 carloads, from the same period last year; and 919,928 intermodal units, down 8.1 percent, or 81,443 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first four weeks of 2023 was 1,843,624 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 3.2 percent compared to last year.
Week Ending January 28, 2023
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 473,650 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.9 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending January 28 were 236,018 carloads, down 0.1 percent compared with the same week in 2022, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 237,632 containers and trailers, down 7.4 percent compared to 2022.
Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2022. They included nonmetallic minerals, up 2,068 carloads, to 29,774; petroleum and petroleum products, up 1,328 carloads, to 10,952; and motor vehicles and parts, up 836 carloads, to 13,742. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2022 included chemicals, down 3,508 carloads, to 31,569; forest products, down 640 carloads, to 9,465; and coal, down 534 carloads, to 68,374.
North American rail volume for the week ending January 28, 2023, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 340,616 carloads, up 2.3 percent compared with the same week last year, and 317,248 intermodal units, down 6.2 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 657,864 carloads and intermodal units, down 2.0 percent. North American rail volume for the first four weeks of 2023 was 2,551,044 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.9 percent compared with 2022.
Canadian railroads reported 81,541 carloads for the week, up 9.7 percent, and 63,013 intermodal units, down 3.5 percent compared with the same week in 2022. For the first four weeks of 2023, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 557,879 carloads, containers and trailers, up 7.3 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 23,057 carloads for the week, up 2.7 percent compared with the same week last year, and 16,603 intermodal units, up 1.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first four weeks of 2023 was 149,541 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 0.8 percent from the same point last year.