Apr 12, 2021 - Economy & Business

U.S. freight traffic posted biggest annual gain ever in March

Data: Association of American Railroads; Table: Axios Visuals

Freight train traffic, an important gauge of U.S. economic health, showed a major pickup in March, increasing year over year for the first time since January 2019, data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR) showed.

What happened: Intermodal train traffic — a measure of shipping containers and truck trailers moved on rail cars — jumped 24% last month.

  • "That’s the biggest monthly gain ever for intermodal; it includes a 28% increase in the last two weeks of March," AAR noted in its latest Rail Time Indicators report.
  • "March’s intermodal gains are not solely a function of easy comparisons, though: March 2021 was the highest-volume March ever for intermodal and the sixth-best intermodal month overall."

Details: Thanks to big gains last month, overall intermodal train traffic is up 13.2% from 2020's levels, and ahead of intermodal traffic through March in 2019 and 2018.

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