By Colin Kellaher
North American rail traffic fell 3.8% last week amid another sharp decline in the U.S., data from the Association of American Railroads showed.
Carload volume for the week ended Aug. 17 on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads fell 4.1%, while intermodal traffic fell 3.5%, the trade group said Wednesday.
North American rail traffic was 2.7% lower in the week ended Aug. 10. For the first 33 weeks of the year, North American volume is now down 2.4%, compared with a year-to-date decline of 2.3% reported a week earlier.
The AAR said U.S. rail traffic fell 5.2% last week on top of a 4.3% drop a week earlier. U.S. carloads fell 4.9%, led by steep drops in shipments of coal and grain.
The number of U.S. railcars sitting idle has climbed to multi-month highs amid big downturns in dry bulk commodities, particularly grain and sand used for hydraulic fracturing of oil wells, according to freight-markets data provider FreightWaves.
The volume of U.S. intermodal containers and trailers fell 5.4% for the week.
U.S. rail traffic is down 3.5% for the year to date, the AAR said.
The AAR said rail traffic rose 1.1% in Canada last week, as a 3.8% rise in intermodal units more than offset a 1.4% drop in carloads.
Rail traffic fell 2.5% in Mexico last week, the AAR said, with carloads down 2.9% and intermodal units off 2%.
Write to Colin Kellaher at firstname.lastname@example.org