2018 U.S. rail carloads increased 1.8%, or by 238,857 carloads, annually to 13,640,641, compared to 2017’s 13,401,784. Intermodal containers and trailers increased 5.5%, or 751,217 units annually to 14,472,849.
United States rail carload and intermodal volumes were up on an annual basis in 2018, according to data issued this week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
2018 U.S. rail carloads increased 1.8%, or by 238,857 carloads, annually to 13,640,641, compared to 2017’s 13,401,784.
Intermodal containers and trailers increased 5.5%, or 751,217 units annually to 14,472,849. This marks the second straight year annual intermodal volume has set a new record. 2017’s 14,011,834 topped the previous annual high for intermodal of 13,710,662, which was set in 2015.
“U.S. freight rail traffic in 2018 was positive for the most part,” said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray in a statement. “Intermodal set a new annual record for the fifth time in the past six years, while carloads of chemicals and crushed stone, sand, and gravel set new annual records. Petroleum products also had a mild resurgence. For the year, 13 of the 20 commodity categories we track saw increased carloads. On the negative side, coal continued to suffer in 2018 from market forces that favor natural gas and renewables for electricity generation. What happens in 2019 will depend on how the domestic and global economies hold up and the policies – particularly monetary and trade – that come out of our legislative and executive branches.”
In December 2018, U.S. rail carloads were up 2.9%, or 29,139 carloads, to 1,021,978. And 12 of the 20 carload commodities tracked by the AAR saw annual gains, including: coal, up 12,382 carloads or 3.8%; petroleum & petroleum products, up 10,875 carloads or 26.5%; and chemicals, up 3,349 carloads or 2.7%. Commodities that saw annual declines in December included: crushed stone, sand & gravel, down 3,116 carloads or 4%; metallic ores, down 1,402 carloads or 5.3%; and stone, clay & glass products, down 938 carloads or 3.4%.
Intermodal containers and trailers rose 5%, or 52,115 units, annually in December to 1,096,116 units.