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AAR: September Rail Carloads Mostly Unchanged Year-over-year, Intermodal Down

by Calculated Risk on 10/07/2022 02:34:00 PM

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

Total carloads on U.S. railroads were down 1.1% in September 2022 from September 2021. Since 1988, when our carload data begin, only 2020 had fewer total carloads in September than 2022 did. … Intermodal was down 4.8% in September, its seventh straight decline and 14th decline in the past 15 months. So far this year, only January had lower intermodal volumes than September. That’s unusual. On average, September is the third highest intermodal month of the year (behind October and August). Intermodal volumes are being constrained by a shift in consumer spending away from goods and towards services, as well as by high inflation that means the same amount of money spent means a smaller quantity of goods purchased.
emphasis added

Click on graph for larger image.

This graph from the Rail Time Indicators report shows the six-week average of U.S. Carloads in 2020, 2021 and 2022:

Total carloads on U.S. railroads averaged 232,148
per week in September 2022. That’s down 1.1% from
September 2021, up 4.6% from September 2020, and
down 6.5% from September 2019. Since 1988, when our
carload data begin, only 2020 had fewer total carloads in
September than 2022 did.

The second graph shows the six-week average (not monthly) of U.S. intermodal in 2020, 2021 and 2022: (using intermodal or shipping containers):

Intermodal averaged 252,826 containers and
trailers per week in September 2022. That’s down 4.8%
from last September, the seventh straight decline, and
the biggest percentage decline in five months.

So far this year, only January had lower
intermodal volumes than September

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