By Colin Kellaher


North American rail traffic plunged 21.1% last week, as a brutal month brought on by the coronavirus pandemic ended with its fourth straight weekly drop of at least 20%, data from the Association of American Railroads showed.

Carload volume plummeted 28.3% for the week ended May 2 on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads, spurred by double-digits declines in nine of the 10 commodity groups tracked.

Intermodal traffic slid 13.4% for the week, the trade group said Wednesday.

In the week ended April 25, North American rail traffic was down 20.2%. For the first 18 weeks of the year, North American traffic is now down 9.9%, compared with a year-to-date drop of 9.2% reported a week earlier.

The AAR said U.S. rail traffic fell 22.1% last week, with carloads plunging 29.6% and the volume of intermodal containers and trailers off 14.5%.

For the month of April, U.S. rail traffic fell 21.2%, with carloads down 25.2%, the worst decline for total carloads for any month since the AAR's records began in 1989. A 17.2% monthly drop in intermodal loadings in April was the worst since the summer of 2009.

Kansas City Southern on Tuesday said its revenue fell 19% in April as volumes fell 23%, including a 19% drop in the U.S. and a 30% decline in Mexico.

"Coal and autos were by far the worst-hit commodities in April, but declines spanned the industrial spectrum, hitting finished steel and steel scrap, chemicals, petroleum products, sand and stone, and much else," said John Gray, AAR senior vice president.

U.S. rail traffic is now down 11.4% for the year to date, the AAR said, compared with a year-to-date decline of 10.7% reported a week earlier.

Canadian rail traffic fell 15.8% last week, as carloads tumbled 23.8% and intermodal units fell 6.2%. Canadian rail traffic is down 5.8% for the first 18 weeks of the year.

Mexican rail traffic plunged 29.4% for the week amid 30.8% dive in carloads and a 27.7% drop in intermodal units. Mexican rail traffic is now down 5% for the year, the AAR said.


Write to Colin Kellaher at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 06, 2020 13:32 ET (17:32 GMT)

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