Canadian rail freight volume up 4.7 percent in August

Monday, 25 October 2021 21:26:01 (GMT+3)   |   San Diego

According to Statistics Canada, in August, Canadian railways transported 30.1 million tons of freight, up 4.7 percent from August 2020. Higher shipments of energy products helped year-over-year growth resume following a decline in July (-3.1 percent).

While August saw the third highest year-over-year growth in tonnage this year, the total freight traffic was just below the five-year average of 31.3 million tons for the month.

On a year-to-date basis through August, the volume of goods moved by rail totaled 243.1 million tons. While this total was 2.7 percent above the same January-to-August period last year, it was 6.1 percent below the cumulative total reported for the same period in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

Following three straight months of year-over-year declines, non-intermodal freight loadings in Canada increased by 2.0 percent to 23.4 million tons in August, led by large increases in some hydrocarbon-based commodities.

With further easing of COVID-19-related restrictions, along with increasing fuel consumption and industrial production, global demand for energy products has been rising. For example, loadings of coal saw a sharp increase of 32.9 percent (+836,000 tons) in August from the same month a year ago, reflecting a strong demand for industrial energy in Asia—notably in China.

After three monthly year-over-year declines due to temporary disruptions, loadings of iron ores and concentrates—feedstock for the production of steel—picked up again in August, rising 5.5 percent (+263,000 tons). With post-COVID stimulus packages focused on infrastructure and construction, loadings of iron and steel, primary or semi-finished, posted a strong increase of 111.5 percent (+233,000 tons) from the same month a year earlier—marking the seventh consecutive increase. As previously reported by Statistics Canada, manufacturing sales by the primary metal industry were up 55.2 percent year over year in August.

Following a decline in July due partly to the mainline disruptions caused by wildfires in British Columbia, intermodal shipments—mainly containers—originating in Canada were up 18.0 percent year over year to 3.2 million tons in August. This was the third highest monthly volume on record and the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year increases.

August growth reflects higher international demand for Canadian consumer goods. According to August data on Canadian international merchandise trade, Canada's exports of consumer goods reported a year-over-year increase of 11.1 percent.

Freight loadings arriving from the United States saw a year-over-year increase for the sixth straight month, up 13.3 percent to 3.5 million tons in August.

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