The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending December 3, 2022, as well as volumes for November 2022.
U.S. railroads originated 1,162,736 carloads in November 2022, down 0.9 percent, or 10,437 carloads, from November 2021. U.S. railroads also originated 1,230,291 containers and trailers in November 2022, down 5.4 percent, or 70,107 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in November 2022 were 2,393,027, down 3.3 percent, or 80,544 carloads and intermodal units from November 2021.
In November 2022, eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with November 2021. These included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 8,726 carloads or 9.2 percent; motor vehicles & parts, up 5,372 carloads or 8.3 percent; and all other carloads, up 2,579 carloads or 10 percent. Commodities that saw declines in November 2022 from November 2021 included: chemicals, down 17,608 carloads or 10.3 percent; grain, down 3,757 carloads or 3 percent; and pulp & paper products, down 1,993 carloads or 7.2 percent.
“Thanksgiving week is one of the lowest volume weeks of the year for rail traffic, which means November rail volumes frequently do not clearly demonstrate underlying sequential trends,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “As has been the case for months, some sectors continue to show strength while others face headwinds. For example, relatively slow lumber carloads are consistent with the weak market for new home construction. Conversely, rail hauled motor vehicles and vehicle parts volumes have been rising as automakers have increased output thanks to greater parts availability.”
Excluding coal, carloads were down 12,153 carloads, or 1.4 percent, in November 2022 from November 2021. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were down 8,396 carloads, or 1.2 percent.
Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 11 months of 2022 was 11,134,112 carloads, up 0 percent, or 4,475 carloads, from the same period last year; and 12,552,267 intermodal units, down 4.8 percent, or 637,473 containers and trailers, from last year.
Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 48 weeks of 2022 was 23,686,379 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 2.6 percent compared to last year.
Week Ending December 3, 2022
Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 495,472 carloads and intermodal units, down 6 percent compared with the same week last year.
Total carloads for the week ending December 3 were 241,307 carloads, down 5.4 percent compared with the same week in 2021, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 254,165 containers and trailers, down 6.7 percent compared to 2021.
Three of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2021. They were coal, up 475 carloads, to 69,107; motor vehicles and parts, up 229 carloads, to 15,044; and farm products excl. grain, and food, up 94 carloads, to 17,709. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2021 included chemicals, down 10,232 carloads (see below for details), to 28,290; grain, down 2,018 carloads, to 26,212; and forest products, down 901 carloads, to 9,666.
Note: Chemical carloads in week 48 were impacted by a one-time make-whole adjustment by a major railroad that incorporated downward revisions in chemical carloads on that railroad for many previous weeks. The net result was a several-thousand reduction in chemical carloads in week 48 compared to a typical week.
North American rail volume for the week ending December 3, 2022, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 344,150 carloads, down 0.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 333,927 intermodal units, down 2.8 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 678,077 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.7 percent. North American rail volume for the first 48 weeks of 2022 was 32,505,576 carloads and intermodal units, down 1.9 percent compared with 2021.
Canadian railroads reported 81,830 carloads for the week, up 15.1 percent, and 64,023 intermodal units, up 12.7 percent compared with the same week in 2021. For the first 48 weeks of 2022, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,009,581 carloads, containers and trailers, down 0.6 percent.
Mexican railroads reported 21,013 carloads for the week, up 4.6 percent compared with the same week last year, and 15,739 intermodal units, up 9.8 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 48 weeks of 2022 was 1,809,616 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 3.6 percent from the same point last year.