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Monday, June 10, 2024

AAR: Rail Carloads Down YoY in May, Intermodal Up

by Calculated Risk on 6/10/2024 11:12:00 AM

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

Total U.S. carloads were down 6.0% in May 2024 from May 2023, their fifth straight year-over-year decline. Year-to-date total carloads through May were down 5.0%, or 247,984 carloads, from last year and were the lowest in our records that go back to 1988.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: it’s coal’s fault. Coal averaged 49,239 carloads per week in May 2024, down 22.0% from last year and its fifth straight double-digit percentage decline. In our records, only May 2020 and April 2024 had fewer coal carloads. Year-to-date coal carloads in 2024 through May were down 18.3%, or 263,128 carloads, from last year. Still, coal remains the single highest volume carload commodity for U.S. railroads (25% of carloads so far this year).
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 2022, 2023 and 2024:
Total originated carloads on U.S. railroads in May 2024 were down 6.0%, or 67,145 carloads, from May 2023. The weekly average in May 2024 was 212,160 carloads, virtually the same as in April 2024.

Year-to-date total carloads in 2024 through May were down 5.0% (247,984 carloads) from the same period last year and down 4.4% from the same period in 2022.
Rail TrafficThe second graph shows the six-week average (not monthly) of U.S. intermodal in 2022, 2023 and 2024: (using intermodal or shipping containers):
U.S. intermodal volume in May 2024 was up 7.6% (90,744 containers and trailers) over May 2023, its ninth straight gain. Year-to-date intermodal volume through May was 5.57 million units, up 8.7% (443,453 units) over last year but down 3.1% (180,434 units) from 2022.