STAT Communications Ag Market News

Grains Help Reduce October Rail Traffic

OTTAWA - Dec 28/23 - SNS -- Reduced grain movement in October contributed to an overall reduction in rail traffic in Canada during the month, according to StatisticsCanada.

Total freight carried by Canadian railways amounted to 32.6 million metric tons (MT), down 1.3% from October 2022 levels, marking the sixth straight month of year-over-year decline. Even so freight carried approached the five-year average of 33.3 million MT for October.

Non-intermodal freight loadings in Canada decreased for the second month in a row, down 1.7% year over year to 26.1 million MT in October, led by sharp declines in some agricultural products—in particular, grains.

With Canada's production of principal field crops decreasing during the 2023 crop year due to less favourable growing conditions in Western Canada, grain shipments by rail were down sharply in October. For example, after a year of substantial year-over-year monthly increases, loadings of canola declined for the first time—dropping 34.6% (-530 000 MT) from October 2022.

Similarly, loadings of wheat fell year over year for the second consecutive month, down 17.4% (-511 000 MT) in October, the largest monthly decrease in tonnage since June 2022.

These declines in carloadings of grain mirror the October decrease in Canadian exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products, as reported in Statistics Canada's international trade data, released earlier this month.

In October, intermodal shipments—mainly containers—originating in Canada fell 7.0% year over year to 3.0 million MT, the 11th consecutive decline and the lowest volume recorded for the month of October in over five years. Recently, the Canadian international merchandise trade program reported imports of consumer goods were down 8.8% year over year in October.

In October, freight traffic arriving from the United States remained well above the volume of previous years for the third consecutive month, up 7.2% year over year to 3.6 million MT—the third highest volume recorded for the month of October in the last 10 years.

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