By Colin Kellaher

 

North American rail traffic rose 5% last week, wrapping up a month of gains, as railroads continued to make up ground lost to the coronavirus pandemic, data from the Association of American Railroads showed.

Carload volume rose 0.8% for the week ended Nov. 28 on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads, while intermodal traffic rose 9.2%, the trade group said Wednesday.

In the week ended Nov. 21, North American rail traffic rose 5.2%. For the first 48 weeks of the year, North American traffic is now down 7.7%, compared with a year-to-date decline of 7.9% reported a week earlier.

The AAR said U.S. rail traffic rose 3.7% last week, as an 11.2% rise in the volume of intermodal containers and trailers more than offset a 4.1% drop in carloads.

"Excluding coal, total U.S. rail carloads are now very close to where they were before the pandemic hit, with grain volumes approaching record highs due to soybean exports," said John Gray, AAR senior vice president.

U.S. intermodal volumes, meanwhile, have seen near-record highs in the past couple of months due to both import volumes and online shopping by consumers, he added.

U.S. rail traffic is now down 8.3% for the year to date, the AAR said, compared with a decline of 8.5% reported a week ago.

Canadian rail traffic jumped 12.5% last week, with carloads surging 15.5% amid strong increases in shipments of grain and chemicals. Intermodal volume rose 9.4%.

Canadian rail traffic is down 4.9% for the first 48 weeks of the year.

Mexican rail traffic fell again last week, as blockades by protesters continued to disrupt the industry. Traffic was down 7.8%, as a 17.8% drop in intermodal units more than offset a 0.7% rise in carloads.

Teachers who have been blocking train tracks in Michoacan for nearly two months this week agreed to end their protests after the federal government said it would meet with them to discuss their demands, according to several published reports. The protests have blocked rail lines from Mexico's Port of Lazaro Cardenas, stranding thousands of containers.

Mexican rail traffic is down 10.2% for the year so far, the AAR said.

 

Write to Colin Kellaher at colin.kellaher@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 02, 2020 14:04 ET (19:04 GMT)

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