Friday, January 10, 2020

AAR: December Rail Carloads down 9.2% YoY, Intermodal Down 9.6% YoY

by Calculated Risk on 1/10/2020 02:19:00 PM

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

2019 was a challenging year for U.S. rail traffic. Total carloads fell 4.9% (668,075 carloads) and intermodal fell 5.1% (740,240 containers and trailers) from 2018. Total carloads of 12.97 million in 2019 were the fewest for any year since sometime prior to 1988, which is when our data begin. Intermodal volume of 13.73 million units in 2019 was the second most ever, behind 2018.
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In December 2019, intermodal was down 9.6% from December 2018 — the 11th straight year-over-year monthly decline and the biggest percentage decline for any month since October 2009. … In December 2019, total carloads were down 9.2% from December 2018, their 11th consecutive monthly decline and the biggest percentage decline for any month since May 2016.
emphasis added
Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image.

This graph from the Rail Time Indicators report shows annual U.S. Carloads and Intermodal units since 2000:
U.S. railroads originated 13.73 million intermodal units in 2019, down 5.1% (740,240 containers and trailers) from 2018. … U.S. intermodal volume in 2019 was still the second highest in history, behind 2018 (14.47 million) and fractionally ahead of 2017 (13.72 million). … Total originated U.S. carloads (excluding the U.S. operations of Canadian railroads) totaled 12.97 million in 2019, down 4.9%, or 668,075 carloads, from 2018 and the fewest annual carloads since sometime prior to 1988, when our data begin.
Rail TrafficThe second graph is the year-over-year change for carloads and intermodal traffic (using intermodal or shipping containers):
Excluding coal, U.S. carloads in 2019 were down 2.8% from 2018, their first decline in three years. In December 2019, they were down 4.2%, their 11th straight monthly decline after 12 straight increases.