From the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Rail Time Indicators. Graphs and excerpts reprinted with permission.
It was more of the same for U.S. freight rail traffic in May 2022: some commodities did pretty well, some did not so well, and some were in between.
Total carloads on U.S. railroads were down 3.7% in May, their second straight year-over-year decline and the third in the first five months of 2022. … In May, U.S. intermodal volume averaged 275,640 units per week. That’s the highest weekly average for any month since June 2021 and the third-best weekly average for intermodal for May in history. May 2022 was down 4.3% from May 2021, which was the best May ever for intermodal.
This graph from the Rail Time Indicators report shows the six-week average of U.S. Carloads in 2020, 2021 and 2022:
Originated U.S. rail carloads totaled 928,742 in May 2022, down 3.7% (35,821 carloads) from May 2021. It’s the third year-over-year monthly decline in the first five months of 2022. Total carloads averaged 232,186 per week in May 2022. In our records that go back to 1988, only 2020 had a lower weekly average for May.
The second graph shows the six-week average (not monthly) of U.S. intermodal in 2020, 2021 and 2022: (using intermodal or shipping containers):
Intermodal is not included in carloads. In May 2022, U.S. intermodal volume was 1.10 million containers and trailers, an average of 275,640 units per week. That’s the highest weekly average for any month since June 2021 and the third-best weekly average for intermodal for May in history. Still, it was down 4.3% from May 2021, which was the best May ever for intermodal. (May 2018 was also higher than May 2022.)