RailState Rail Capacity Report September 13-19, 2022

With a larger grain harvest expected this year, our clients and others are concerned about rail capacity at 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.

RailState’s network of sensors now covers all of Canada, including the lines serving Vancouver. We have a unique, unbiased view on train volume and performance. Each Wednesday, we will provide a summary of train volumes into Vancouver from the interior of Canada.

The graph below provides the initial update. The blue line is the seven-day moving average of total trains per day moving westbound to Vancouver. There is more demand, but this is the amount of capacity the railways have made available. The dashed line is the average number of trains per day for the 2021-2022 crop year. The dotted line is the train capacity required to move the expected increase in grain shipments.

Chart of grain meltdown september 20

For most of 2022 the railways’ train volume has been below the amount required to move the current grain harvest. This past week (9/13-9/19/2022) was the first week this year during which the seven-day moving average number of trains moving westbound past Chilliwack (just east of Vancouver) stayed significantly above the average of 25.7 trains per day that is required to move a typical grain harvest for an entire week (averaging 26.9 trains/day for the seven days ending 9/19/2022). Most of the additional trains were grain trains. There were no significant declines in volumes of other train types during the week. Check back here each Wednesday for our updates.

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