As Railway Age published on July 15 an article titled; “Rail Traffic’s Recovery Process Takes Step Back”, the Association of American Railroads published the following data regarding carloads for the week that ended July 11th:

Same Week
Week Ending July 11 % Change
Commodity Typical Car Type (s) 2020 vs 2019
Grain Covered Hopper -19.7%
Farm Products ex. Grain Covered Hopper, Gondola -3.9%
Chemicals Boxcar, Tankcar, other -7.7%
Petroleum & Petroleum Products Tankcar -23.0%
Coal Gondola -36.1%
Forest Products Flatcar, Gondola -12.0%
Metallic Ores & Metals Open top Hopper, Gondola -41.6%
Motor Vehicles & Parts Autorack, Boxcar, Flatcar -1.8%
Nonmetallic Minerals Open top Hopper, Gondola -17.4%

As is evident, the trend line shows the economy, and closely linked rail freight traffic remains very challenged in the current environment. To us, we find some of the results somewhat expected while other data is clearly a bad sign. The drop in coal shipments makes sense, with oil prices down so much. However, the fall-off in metallic ores and metals is nothing short of terrible, signaling a very deep impact upon the economy and many industries from the pandemic and related events. One can only hope that the weeks to come will show a gradual slowing of these reductions.

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