Canadian rail freight volume down 0.9 percent in September

Monday, 29 November 2021 20:51:42 (GMT+3)   |   San Diego

According to Statistics Canada, In September, the volume of cargo carried by Canadian railways reached 30.8 million tons, down slightly (-0.9 percent) from September 2020.

While the overall freight volume was very close to the five-year monthly average of 31.5 million tons, increases in loadings of energy products and freight traffic from US connections helped to offset lower shipments of some agricultural and food products.

September's slight decline in total rail freight reflected a lower volume of domestic loadings, both non-intermodal and intermodal (or containers). Following a 2.0 percent increase in August, non-intermodal loadings were down 2.5 percent year over year to 24.1 million tons in September—driven mainly by ongoing declines in loadings of some agricultural and food products. In addition, loadings of potash decreased 16.9 percent (-339,000 tons) in September, while those of iron ores and concentrates were down 5.9 percent (-272,000 tons) from September 2020 levels.

Large increases in some energy products continued as the global economy reopened, spawning a rise in fuel consumption and industrial production. For instance, loadings of coal rose year over year for a second month, up 22.1 percent (+618,000 tons), following a large increase in August (+32.9 percent). This reflects strong global demand for industrial energy in Asia.

Loadings of iron and steel, primary or semi-finished, have posted year-over-year increases for eight straight months. They surged 73.9 percent (+205,000 tons) in September after a large gain in August (+111.6 percent). Statistics Canada's Monthly Survey of Manufacturing reported a strong year-over-year increase of 37.9 percent for primary metal manufacturing sales in September.

In September 2021, intermodal shipments—mainly containers—originating in Canada declined for the first time after 11 straight months of growth. They were down 5.2 percent to 3.1 million tons from the same month a year earlier.

This decrease partly reflects ongoing supply chain bottlenecks, including the shortage of containers and congestion at major ports, which are continuing to disrupt the shipping industry. In fact, the Canadian international merchandise trade data show that Canada's imports of consumer goods recorded a year-over-year decline for a third straight month in September.

Looking ahead, the decline in intermodal traffic may continue, with the imbalance of shipping containers, port congestion and rail disruptions caused by November flooding in British Columbia.

Freight traffic from connections with US railways helped to offset the overall decline in loadings in September, rising sharply by 15.5 percent to 3.7 million tons. This marks a seventh consecutive year-over-year increase in tonnage.

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