STAT Communications Ag Market News

Canadian Rail Traffic Fell in January

OTTAWA - Mar 25/24 - SNS -- The volume of freight carried by Canadian railways in January totalled 29.3 million metric tons (MT), down 8.5% from last year and just under the five-year average of 30.8 million MT for the month, reports Statistics Canada.

The traffic decline in January was the result of 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.

Following a year-over-year increase of 10.2% in December 2023, non-intermodal freight loadings fell 8.3% year over year to 23.5 million MT in January 2024. While widespread, the decline was led by a sharp drop in shipments of coal as well as ongoing declines in grain.

Loadings of coal declined for the first time after four straight months of year-over-year increases, down sharply by 19.0% (-627 000 MT) in January.

Loadings of certain agricultural and food products, in particular grains, also declined in January, reflecting lower crop production due to less favourable growing conditions in Western Canada during 2023.

Carloadings of wheat dropped 26.2% (-611 000 MT) compared with the same month in 2023. Loadings of canola were down 46.7% (-385 000 MT) year over year in January 2024 while, similarly, loadings of other cereal grains were down 40.2% (-211 000 MT) from January 2023 levels.

Partly offsetting these declines were increases for two commodities. Loadings of potash posted a year-over-year gain for a sixth consecutive month, increasing by 7.9% (+137 000 MT) in January 2024 compared with a year earlier, while loadings of fuel oils and crude petroleum rose for the third month in a row, up 12.7% (+119 000 MT) in January compared with the same month last year.

In January 2024, domestic intermodal shipments—mainly containers—edged down 3.3% year over year to 2.7 million MT. Indeed, the intermodal rail volume was the lowest for the month of January since 2020.

Freight traffic from US rail connections declined year over year in January 2024. Tonnage fell 13.8% to 3.1 million MT in January—the lowest traffic level for the month of January since 2017.

Only active subscribers can read all of this article.

If you are a subscriber, please log into the website.

If you are not a subscriber, click here to subscribe to this edition of the STAT website and to learn more about becoming a subscriber.