Canadian railway freight volume up 0.5 percent in June

Wednesday, 25 August 2021 19:30:33 (GMT+3)   |   San Diego

According to Statistics Canada, Canadian railways carried 29.5 million tons of freight in June. This was a slight increase (0.5 percent) from June 2020 (29.4 million tons), when rail traffic volumes fell to a four-year low because of widespread shutdowns at the onset of the pandemic.

The overall tonnage remained just below the five-year average of 30.6 million tons for June. Higher loadings of some energy products offset a sharp drop in iron ores and concentrates as well as continued declines in wheat and canola.

On a year-to-date basis through June, total cargo volume moved by rail amounted to 184.2 million tons, up 3.2 percent compared with the same period in 2020. Despite the slowdown in May and June, this was the second highest six-month cumulative total in five years.

June's small increase in total freight carried reflected strong volume growth in both international and domestic intermodal loadings.

Freight traffic received from American railways was the main contributor to the overall increase in tonnage transported in June, rising sharply by 29.0 percent year over year to 3.4 million tons. This came on the heels of strong gains in both May (+21.1 percent) and April (+17.6 percent).

Intermodal shipments—mainly containers—originating in Canada increased by 27.2 percent to 3.2 million tons in June, the 10th straight month showing a year-over-year increase.

While the volume increase in June was smaller than the average of 35.8 percent registered in the four preceding months. Statistics Canada said it appears to reflect ongoing consumer spending on goods as well as inventory replenishment to meet demands for online shopping. Canada's imports and exports of consumer goods continued to increase year over year, rising by 9.9 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively, according to June data on Canadian international merchandise trade.

Non-intermodal freight loadings fell for the second month in a row, down 6.1 percent year over year to 29.9 million tons in June. This decline was driven by large tonnage decreases in certain raw minerals and agricultural and food products.

Iron ores and concentrates loadings fell 28.0 percent (-1,407,000 tons) below June 2020 levels. While this was less than the drop recorded in May (-45.2 percent), it may reflect lingering production disruptions at a Quebec–Labrador mine site that was temporarily shut from May to mid-June.

Railcar loadings of other metallic ores and concentrates were also down by 294,000 tons from the same month in 2020, marking the second consecutive month of sharp declines.

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