US carloads set records in 2021

Despite many of the challenges that 2021 presented to the American economy, and the supply chain in particular, freight railroads kept goods flowing. Over the course of 2021, total US carload traffic for the year was up 6.6% from the same period last year; and intermodal was up 4.9% from last year.
“For most categories, rail traffic in 2021 was substantially higher than in 2020,” said AAR Policy & Economics Senior Vice President John Gray. “On the carload side, chemicals set a new annual record and grain had its best year since 2008. Coal carloads were up substantially because of sharply higher natural gas prices, while carloads of motor vehicles suffered as microchip shortages forced automakers to cut output. For intermodal, a record-setting first half gave way to a lower second half as supply chain challenges persisted. Still, 2021 was the second-best US intermodal year ever, behind only 2018.”

Safety and capacity on track
With regulatory matters before the Surface Transportation Board, the Federal Railroad Administration and other government agencies, FreightWaves looks at how railroads can continue delivering for America.
“With the signing of the bipartisan infrastructure package, freight railroads look forward to working with federal partners at the Department of Transportation on projects that enhance long-term competitiveness and bolster safety,” AAR Senior Director of Media Relations Jessica Kahanek said. “Technology has created significant, demonstrated safety gains and the industry must be able to continue building on those successes.”