North American forest products rail freight was down 7.5% through 20 weeks of 2020 at 316,493 carloads, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported.

Volume in the week ending May 16 was down 13% to 15,113 carloads.

“None of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2019,” AAR commented.

US forest products freight year-to-date was 5.2% lower from a year ago to 189,425 carloads and in the latest week was down 10.8% to 8,908 carloads. Canadian freight declined 10.8% through 20 weeks to 126,501 carloads and in the week of May 16 was 16% lower to 6,175 carloads. Mexico’s relatively small volume was 22.2% higher year-to-date at 567 carloads and in the week was 14.3% lower to 30 units.

Total North American rail freight was 11.9% lower year-to-date at 6.23 million carloads and in the latest week was down 29.2% to 263,409 carloads, AAR showed. The US total was down 30.2% in the week and Canada was 25.4% lower.

“The 30.2% decline in total US carloads last week was the biggest year-over-year weekly decline for total carloads since 1988, when our data begin. Coal didn’t help: last week was the fifth straight week in which coal carloads were down at least 40% from last year,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray. “As the Covid-19 situation continues to evolve across the globe, North America’s freight railroads will remain focused on safeguarding the health and safety of their workforce while working tirelessly to maintain the flow of goods necessary to preserve public health, sustain families, and help the economy recover as quickly as the situation allows.”