STAT Communications Ag Market News

Railcar Loadings Continued Slump in November

OTTAWA - Jan 27/22 - SNS -- Loss of access to west coast ports because of landslides and flooding in mountain passes had a significant impact on rail traffic volume in November, according to Statistics Canada.

Those closures resulted in 16.6% drop freight carried by railways in western Canada, while movement in eastern Canada was up slightly by 0.6%.

Total freight carried by Canadian railways in November reached 29.0 million metric tons (MT), down 10.4% from the same month the previous year.

Reduced shipments of grain were the main contributors, as flooding in British Columbia during the month temporarily halted rail shipments to and from the Port of Vancouver. Non-intermodal freight loadings fell 14.3% to 22.4 million MT mainly driven by in grains.

Wheat loadings, for example, sank 49.6% in November or 1.235 million MT for the largest drop ever recorded. Loadings of canola dropped 37.7% or 459,000 MT from the previous year; while loadings of other cereal grains sank 45.4% or 345,000 MT from the same month in 2020.

Other significant decreases were also reported for coal, with loadings dropping 26.8% (-768 000 MT) in November from the same period in 2020, after posting strong gains in October (+15.1%) and September (+22.1%). Similar trends were observed in Canadian international merchandise trade, with Canada's exports of farm and food products as well as coal posting the largest decrease in November.

By contrast, loadings of primary or semi-finished iron and steel were up 36.0% or 88,000 MT; loadings of gaseous hydrocarbons (including LPGs) rose 8.0% or 64,000 MT); sand, gravel and crushed stone which rose 25.0% or 47,000 MT; while gasoline and aviation turbine fuel were up 28.0% or 43,000 MT.

Intermodal Slumped While U.S. Movement Rose

Domestic intermodal loadings -- mainly containers -- also contributed to the overall tonnage drop transported by rail in November, falling 18.2% year over year to 2.7 million MT. This was the lowest volume recorded for November in six years, and came on the heels of decreases in both October (-13.4%) and September (-4.5%).

In November, freight traffic from connections with US railways remained well above 2020 volumes for the ninth consecutive month, rising 32.3% year over year to 3.9 million MT. This jump may partly reflect re-routing of some rail traffic via American connections around the flooded areas in British Columbia.

As reported by Canadian international merchandise trade, it is possible that alternative shipping arrangements supported Canadian exports to the United States in November, helping to mitigate the impact of the floods on trade activity.

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