By Colin Kellaher

 

North American rail traffic rose 1.3% last week, wrapping up a challenging year for railroads on a positive note, data from the Association of American Railroads showed.

Carload volume fell 4.7% for the week ended Jan. 2 on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads, while intermodal traffic rose 8.1%, the trade group said Wednesday.

In the week ended Dec. 26, North American rail traffic rose 7%. North American traffic ended the 53-week year down 6.7%, as rising volumes in the final quarter of the year helped mitigate business lost earlier in the year to the coronavirus pandemic.

The AAR said U.S. rail traffic rose 1.9% last week, with a 10.7% increase in the volume of intermodal containers and trailers more than offsetting a 6.1% drop in carloads.

U.S. rail traffic fell 7.2% for the 53-week year, the AAR said, but the trade group noted that volumes had returned to near prepandemic levels by the end of the year, sparked by sharply higher grain and intermodal shipments and the reopening of auto assembly plants.

"It's no surprise that rail volumes were down for the year overall, but railroads are looking to the future," said John Gray, AAR senior vice president. "Their experience in 2020 along with huge ongoing network investments have made the industry more adaptable and better able to adjust to the demands of a wide range of operational and market conditions."

Canadian rail traffic slipped 0.1% last week amid a 2.7% decline in carloads and a 3.3% rise in intermodal volume. Canadian rail traffic was down 4.1% for the 53-week year.

Mexican rail traffic fell 2.6% last week, as a 16% drop in intermodal units more than offset a 10.1% rise in carloads. Mexican rail traffic fell 9.8% for the year, the AAR said.

 

Write to Colin Kellaher at colin.kellaher@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 06, 2021 13:50 ET (18:50 GMT)

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