Rail Traffic for the Week Ending January 1, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 5, 2022

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending January 1, 2022, as well as volumes for December 2021.

U.S. railroads originated 1,135,835 carloads in December 2021, up 3.1 percent, or 33,918 carloads, from December 2020. U.S. railroads also originated 1,224,780 containers and trailers in December 2021, down 8.2 percent, or 109,729 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in December 2021 were 2,360,615, down 3.1 percent, or 75,811 carloads and intermodal units from December 2020.

In December 2021, 14 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with December 2020. These included: coal, up 21,871 carloads or 7.4 percent; crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 17,926 carloads or 25.3 percent; and chemicals, up 9,675 carloads or 6 percent. Commodities that saw declines in December 2021 from December 2020 included: grain, down 12,701 carloads or 9.9 percent; motor vehicles & parts, down 8,637 carloads or 12.6 percent; and petroleum & petroleum products, down 5,560 carloads or 10 percent.

“For most categories, rail traffic in 2021 was substantially higher than in 2020,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “On the carload side, chemicals set a new annual record and grain had its best year since 2008. Coal carloads were up substantially because of sharply higher natural gas prices, while carloads of motor vehicles suffered as microchip shortages forced automakers to cut output. For intermodal, a record-setting first half gave way to a lower second half as supply chain challenges persisted. Still, 2021 was the second-best U.S. intermodal year ever, behind only 2018.”

Excluding coal, carloads were up 12,047 carloads, or 1.5 percent, in December 2021 from December 2020. Excluding coal and grain, carloads were up 24,748 carloads, or 3.7 percent.

Total U.S. carload traffic for 2021 was 12,010,274 carloads, up 6.6 percent, or 744,646 carloads, from the same period last year; and 14,142,442 intermodal units, up 4.9 percent, or 665,528 containers and trailers, from last year.

Total combined U.S. traffic for 2021 was 26,152,716 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 5.7 percent compared to last year.

Week Ending January 1, 2022

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 395,371 carloads and intermodal units, down 6.3 percent compared with the same week last year.

Total carloads for the week ending January 1 were 205,836 carloads, up 1.7 percent compared with the same week in 2020, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 189,535 containers and trailers, down 13.7 percent compared to 2020.

Seven of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020. They included coal, up 4,246 carloads, to 59,264; nonmetallic minerals, up 3,312 carloads, to 23,060; and metallic ores and metals, up 1,374 carloads, to 21,841. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2020 were grain, down 5,087 carloads, to 19,698; petroleum and petroleum products, down 1,257 carloads, to 9,006; and miscellaneous carloads, down 627 carloads, to 7,273.

North American rail volume for the week ending January 1, 2022, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 279,411 carloads, down 3.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 248,188 intermodal units, down 13.5 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 527,599 carloads and intermodal units, down 8.4 percent. North American rail volume for the first 52 weeks of 2021 was 35,585,222 carloads and intermodal units, up 4.5 percent compared with 2020.

Canadian railroads reported 57,153 carloads for the week, down 23.2 percent, and 47,709 intermodal units, down 18 percent compared with the same week in 2020. For the first 52 weeks of 2021, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 7,556,277 carloads, containers and trailers, up 0.6 percent.

Mexican railroads reported 16,422 carloads for the week, up 30.4 percent compared with the same week last year, and 10,944 intermodal units, up 20.4 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 52 weeks of 2021 was 1,876,229 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 4.7 percent from the same point last year.

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For more information contact: AAR Media Relations at [email protected]  or 202-639-2345.

About AAR: The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is the world’s leading railroad policy, research and technology organization focusing on the safety and productivity of rail carriers. AAR members include the major freight railroads of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as Amtrak. Learn more at www.aar.org.

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