Aggregate rail carloads dip in December 2020

By |  January 7, 2021
Photo by Pit & Quarry staff.

Rail carloads of crushed stone, sand and gravel were down in December. Photo: P&Q Staff

Crushed stone, sand and gravel railroad carloads were down in December, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

According to AAR, crushed stone, sand and gravel rail carloads were down about 12,000 carloads, or 14.8 percent.

U.S. railroads originated more than 1.1 million rail carloads in December 2020, down 3.7 percent, or about 42,000 carloads, from December 2019. According to AAR, other carload categories it tracks were also down in December, including coal, which was down about 50,000 carloads, or about 14.5 percent.

“Before the pandemic even hit, railroads began 2020 on less-than-ideal footing because of weakness in the manufacturing sector and lower port activity caused by trade disputes,” says John Gray, AAR senior vice president. “For several months earlier this year (2020), railroads suffered near-record traffic declines, but they worked hard to keep the goods we all need moving. By the end of the year, rail traffic was close to pre-pandemic levels, sparked by sharply higher grain and intermodal shipments along with the reopening of auto assembly plants.”

Total U.S. traffic for 2020 was at about 11.4 million carloads, down 12.9 percent, or down about 1.7 million carloads from 2019.

“It’s no surprise that rail volumes were down for the year overall, but railroads are looking to the future,” Gray says. “Their experience in 2020, along with huge ongoing network investments, have made the industry more adaptable and better able to adjust to the demands of a wide range of operational and market conditions. Railroads are well prepared to help our economy grow in 2021.”

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Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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