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Expand chart
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.

Go deeper

CDC says fully vaccinated people don't have to wear masks indoors

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Erin Clark-Pool/Getty Images

The CDC announced in new guidance Thursday that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, regardless of crowd size.

What they're saying: "If you are fully vaccinated, you are protected, and you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will say at a White House press briefing.

Colonial Pipeline reportedly paid hackers nearly $5 million in ransom

Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Colonial Pipeline paid hackers linked to the DarkSide cybercrime group nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency after last week's ransomware attack, Bloomberg first reported and the New York Times confirmed.

Why it matters: The breach of the largest refined fuels pipeline in the U.S. triggered new concerns about the vulnerability of the country's increasingly digitized energy systems.

Biden warns gas stations not to price gouge: "That's not who we are"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday warned gas companies to not price gouge amid major shortages following the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.

The big picture: Biden added that the FBI does not believe the Russian government is behind the attack, but they do know that those responsible "are living in Russia."