MOSCOW (MRC) -- North American chemical rail traffic fell by 19.7% year on year to 40,951 railcar loadings for the week ended 3 December – marking an 11th consecutive decline, said Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Increases in Canada and Mexico were more than offset by a 26.6% decline in the US. The four-week average for North American chemical rail traffic was at 45,756 railcar loadings.
Despite the 11th decline in a row, for the first 48 weeks of 2022 ended 3 December North American chemical railcar traffic was still up 0.7% year on year to 2,196,301 railcar loadings.
Shipments of chemicals, coal, motor vehicles and parts, nonmetallic minerals, and oil and oil products rose for the first 48 weeks, while shipments in all other freight railcar categories fell. For the month of November, combined US carload and intermodal originations were 2,393,027, down by 3.3% or 80,544 carloads and intermodal units from November 2021.
“Thanksgiving week is one of the lowest volume weeks of the year for rail traffic, which means November rail volumes frequently do not clearly demonstrate underlying sequential trends,” said AAR senior vice president John Gray in commenting on the traffic in the US last month.
As has been the case for months, some sectors continued to show strength while others faced headwinds, he said. For example, relatively slow lumber carloads were consistent with the weak market for new home construction, he said.
Conversely, volumes of motor vehicles and vehicle parts shipped on rail have been rising as automakers have increased output thanks to greater parts availability, Gray said. In related news, the US averted a potential strike of rail workers that could have begun as early as 9 December.
In the US, chemical railcar loadings represent about 20% of chemical transportation by tonnage, with trucks, barges and pipelines carrying the rest. In Canada, producers rely on rail to ship more than 70% of their products, with some exclusively using rail.
We remind, North American chemical rail traffic fell by 3.2% year on year to 40,467 railcar loadings for the week ended 26 November – marking a 10th consecutive decline. An increase in Canada was more than offset by declines in the US and Mexico. The four-week average for North American chemical rail traffic was at 45,860 railcar loadings.