Demand for rail freight came roaring back in 2021 after a pandemic-induced decline. But at times, there seemed to be more business than railroads could handle.
Railyards in the Midwest were overwhelmed with a backlog of containers over the summer after a surge of imports arriving on the West Coast exacerbated congestion further inland. Labor constraints and periodic equipment shortages also strained network capacity and fluidity, leading to service disruptions.
Railroads such as Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern stepped up to the challenge in part by adding more tech capabilities to streamline operations and boost service. With intermodal demand expected to remain high into 2022, here's a look back at some of the challenges railroads faced this year, and how they've responded.