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AAR: U.S. railroads navagating supply-chain challenges

(Source: Progressive Railroading 09/02/2021)

U.S. freight railroads’ traffic was steady last month compared with the August 2020 level, according to Association of American Railroads data.

U.S. railroads originated 934,762 carloads in August 2021, up 4.1%, and 1,085,345 containers and trailers, down 3.3%, from year-ago levels. Combined, U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,020,107, down 0%, or 788 carloads and intermodal units.

“Rail traffic is navigating many of the same challenges plaguing other supply chain participants, including chassis and container shortages at ports; shortages of drayage truck drivers; port congestion; insufficient warehouse capacity at many locations; and now, weather problems in the Gulf,” said AAR Senior Vice President John Gray in a press release. “Faced with this, railroads are working hard, in cooperation with other stakeholders, to keep the national rail network fluid.”

Last month, 14 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month logged carload gains compared with August 2020. These included: coal, up 8.4%; crushed stone, sand & gravel, up 10.6%; and primary metal products, up 26.1%

Commodities that posted declines included: grain, down 17.5%; motor vehicles and parts, down 16.5%; and farm products excluding grain, down 35.8%.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first eight months of 2021 climbed 8.4% and intermodal units rose 12.7% compared with the same period in 2020.

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