RailState Rail Capacity Report October 10-17, 2022

With a larger grain harvest expected this year, our customers and others are concerned about rail capacity at the Port of Vancouver. Last year’s harvest saw ample service disruptions and delays, due to fires, flooding, and other issues. There were also capacity issues caused by insufficient train crews and operating disruptions that affected all commodities.

Rail Capacity Chart October 17

Observations for Week 10/11-10/17/2022

  • For most of 2022 the railways’ train volume has been below the amount required to move the current grain harvest.
  • At the end of this past week (10/11-10/17/2022), the 7-day moving average number of trains moving westbound past Chilliwack was 26.6 trains/day, above the average of 25.7 trains/day that is required to move a typical grain harvest.
  • The moving average number of trains/day was above 25.7 trains/day for all 7 days during this past week.
  • However, the 7 day moving average for total trains and grain trains is now declining.

Summary
For the past four weeks, the railways have appeared to be doing well with movement toward Vancouver. Total train volume is above the 25.7 trains/day required to move the current grain harvest, and the typical volume of other commodities. Most of the additional trains above the year-to-date average are grain trains.

We estimate that about 5 grain trains/day are required to move the expected grain harvest. For the past week, the railways moved 7.7 grain trains/day. This is down from about 9 grain trains/day in early October. The railways also moved fewer coal trains. This past week, the volume of coal trains was 4.1 trains/day, vs. a longer-term average of 5 trains/day. This is the fourth week in a row during which coal shipments have been below the long-term average. Manifest trains (2.6 trains/day) and intermodal trains (6.6 trains/day) had also fallen slightly below the longer-term averages for those categories of traffic.

We will continue to monitor the Grain Harvest in Canada on a weekly basis, and provide updates on trends we’re seeing.

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