STAT Communications Ag Market News

Railway Car Loadings Decline

OTTAWA - Oct24/23 - SNS -- Feight handled by Canaian railways posted its fourth consecutive month of year over year declines despite strong growth in shipments of grains and oilseeds, according to Statistics Canada.

During the month, Canadian railways transported 30.6 million metric tons (MT) of freight, down 2.4% from August 2022 levels and marking the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year decline.

The overall freight volume in August 2023 was just below the five-year average of 31.5 million MT for this month. While shipments of containers and certain energy products were down significantly, carloadings of some agricultural and food products registered strong gains.

The decline in total freight carried in August reflected lower volumes across all types of rail operations: non-intermodal loadings (mainly commodities) and intermodal loadings (mainly containers), as well as freight traffic from connections with American railways.

The tonnage declines in many commodities were mostly offset by increases in carloadings of agricultural and food products, particularly grains. Wheat led the increases, with loadings rising by 24.9% year over year in August, the smallest gain in tonnage in 12 months, as rail volumes from 2022's bumper crop started to wane.

Loadings of other cereal grains rose sharply in August by 89.4% (+171 000 MT) from August 2022, while loadings of canola were up 76.0% (+139 000 MT), their 11th consecutive month of year-over-year growth.

Intermodal shipments originating from Canada led the overall decline in freight for the second month in a row in August, falling 11.6% year over year to 2.9 million MT. Container volumes have declined year over year for nine straight months, and August was the second-lowest volume recorded for this month in seven years.

The August decline may reflect a weakening of demand for imported goods, as Canadian international trade data reported that imports of consumer goods fell 7.7% year over year in August.

In August, non-intermodal freight loadings in Canada edged down 0.8% year over year to 23.9 million MT, driven by sharp declines in some energy-based commodities. Loadings of coal declined 14.2% (-505 000 MT) year over year in August, the second-largest drop in the last year. Similarly, loadings of fuel oils and crude petroleum, on a downward trend since June 2022, decreased 15.3% (-152 000 MT) in August 2023 compared with August 2022 levels. Meanwhile, loadings of gasoline and aviation turbine fuel were down 27.2% (-82 000 MT), their sixth monthly decline in a row.

Freight traffic received from connections with US railways saw a year-over-year decline for the 12th consecutive month, down 4.2% to 3.8 million MT in August.

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