The American Association of Railroads has reported rail traffic volumes for July 2021. Please keep in mind that the comparison of this July to July 2020 is greatly influenced by the pandemic, which appears to still be affecting the economy (as well as the health of North Americans). Here is a summary of AAR’s report:
·         Total U.S. carloads were 904,670, up 6.6 percent from July 2020;
·         Total containers and trailers originated was 1,066,169 up 1.5 percent from a year ago;
·         Combined U.S. carloads and intermodal originations were up 3.8 percent
10 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with July 2020, including:
  • Coal, up 14.1 percent;
  • Metallic ores, up 137.8 percent;
  • Primary metal products, up 36.4 percent.
Commodities that saw declines included:
  • Motor vehicles & parts, down 21.3 percent;
  • Grain, down 7.3 percent; and,
  • Grain mill products, down 5 percent.
It is nice to see metallic ores shipments continue upward since that was one of the categories hardest hit during 2020. But notice that motor vehicles and parts is down over 20%; a sign that the pandemic is still impacting production.
We don’t know what the future of this pandemic is, but it seems certain the economy and the rail freight industry in particular will continue to be impacted.