From the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Rail Time Indicators. Graphs and excerpts reprinted with permission.
Combined originated carloads and intermodal units on U.S. railroads averaged 499,331 per week
in October 2023, the most for any month since June 2021 — a span of 28 months. Part of the increase
relates to intermodal seasonality and concerns over Panama Canal capacity, but part also reflects an
economy that remains resilient.
Click on graph for larger image.
This graph from the Rail Time Indicators report shows the six-week average of U.S. Carloads in 2021, 2022 and 2022:
Total originated carloads on U.S. railroads (not
including the U.S. operations of Canadian and Mexican
railroads) were down 0.3% (2,921 carloads) in October
2023 from October 2022, their fourth decline in the past
five months. Total carloads averaged 230,398 per week
in October 2023. That’s down fractionally from 230,429 in
September 2023 but otherwise is the highest in a year.
The second graph shows the six-week average (not monthly) of U.S. intermodal in 2021, 2022 and 2023: (using intermodal or shipping containers):
It’s too soon to say intermodal is back, but
October’s numbers are encouraging. U.S. railroads
averaged 268,933 intermodal originations per week in
October 2023, up 2.2% over October 2022. That’s the
second straight year-over-year gain (September was
0.7%) following 18 straight declines. It’s also the biggest
weekly average for intermodal since May 2022.