United States rail carload and intermodal volumes saw annual declines in January, according to data issued this week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Rail carloads—at 1,165,733—decreased 5.9%, or 73,110 carloads, annually. And the AAR said that nine of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR were down annually, including: chemicals, up 3,276 carloads or 2.1%; all other carloads, up 2,558 carloads or 9.2%; and grain mill products, up 1,583 carloads or 3.6%. Commodities that saw declines in January 2020 from January 2019 included: coal, down 55,882 carloads or 13.8%; grain, down 12,908 carloads or 11.6%; and crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 4,973 carloads or 5.3%.
When excluding coal, carloads were down 17,228 carloads, or 2.1%, annually, and when excluding coal and grain, carloads fell 4,320 carloads, or 0.6%.
Intermodal containers and trailers—at 1,245,080 units—decreased 5.4%, or 71,081 units, compared to January 2019.
“U.S. rail volumes fell again in January, reflecting continued softness in manufacturing and global economic weakness made worse by trade uncertainties,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray in a statement. “But there were glimmers of hope. Nine of the 20 carload categories we track had year-over-year gains in January, the most in a year, and several other commodities had carload declines in January that were less pronounced than they’ve been in recent months. It’s too early to say if the worst is behind us, but railroads are hopeful that 2020 will see an improved business climate and rising volumes across much of their traffic base.”
For the week ending February 1, AAR reported U.S. rail carloads were down 0.6% to 241,339, and intermodal units rose 5.2% to 268,822.
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