Canadian rail freight volume in October reaches highest level since March

Monday, 21 December 2020 19:54:31 (GMT+3)   |   San Diego

According to Statistics Canada, the volume of rail freight carried in Canada continued to recover in October, moving closer to pre-pandemic levels, for the second month in a row. In October, Canadian railways carried 32.6 million tons of freight, down 1.9 percent from 33.2 million tons in October 2019. While the overall tonnage in October was still down year over year, it was the highest level observed since March 2020, coming close to the previous five-year average for October.

In the 10-month period from January to October of 2020, 300.5 million tons of freight were moved by rail, down 7.1 percent from the same period last year and the lowest 10-month cumulative total in four years.

October's decrease in carloadings reflected a lower volume of both domestic non-intermodal and international loadings.

Domestically, non-intermodal cargo loadings decreased 1.8 percent year over year to 26.1 million tons, driven by large declines in hydrocarbon-based commodities. Loadings of fuel oils and crude petroleum declined year over year for the seventh straight month, down 50.1 percent (or -821,000 tons) in October.

While coal loadings were 6.3 percent (-201,000 tons) lower than in October 2019, this was a marked improvement from August (-26.2 percent) and September (-12.4 percent).

Loadings of certain mineral and chemical commodities also declined in October. Other metallic ores and concentrates loadings, which have fallen 50 percent or more year over year each month since May, dropped 52.6 percent (or -287,000 tons) from October last year.

Freight traffic from American railways saw a year-over-year decline for a seventh straight month, dipping 15.9 percent to 2.8 million tons in October. This was the lowest level for October in four years and followed similar declines in August (-21.8 percent) and September (-14.1 percent).

Conversely, intermodal freight loadings in Canada rose 12.1 percent to 3.6 million tons from a year ago—an all-time high.

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