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Friday, March 03, 2023

AAR: February Rail Carloads and Intermodal Decreased Year-over-year

by Calculated Risk on 3/03/2023 04:08:00 PM

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

Coal, chemicals, and grain combined account for more than half of U.S. non-intermodal rail volume. When all three are down, it’s extremely likely total carloads are down too. That’s what happened in February 2023 compared with February 2022: total carloads fell by 15,101 carloads, or 1.6%.
U.S. intermodal volume fell 8.4% in February, its 12th straight decline.
emphasis added
Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image.

This graph from the Rail Time Indicators report shows the six-week average of U.S. Carloads in 2021, 2022 and 2022:
Total originated U.S. rail carloads in February 2023 were 905,744, down 1.6%, or 15,101 carloads, from February 2022. Carloads averaged 226,436 per week in February 2023. February 2021 was lower (an average of just 206,201 per week, thanks to severe weather that month), but otherwise February 2023 was the lowestvolume February for total carloads in our records that go back to 1988.
Rail TrafficThe second graph shows the six-week average (not monthly) of U.S. intermodal in 2021, 2022 and 2023: (using intermodal or shipping containers):
Intermodal originations, which are not included in carloads, totaled 943,979 in February 2023, down 8.4%, or 86,351 containers and trailers, from February 2022. The weekly average in February 2023 was 235,995, the fewest for February since 2015 (when volumes were down due to labor strife as West Coast ports).

The 8.4% year-over-year decline in February was the 12th straight decline and the largest percentage decline in those 12 months.