RailState Rail Capacity Report January 17-23, 2023

We’ve been reporting on the Grain movement in Canada to the Port of Vancouver for the last eighteen weeks. For most of this period, the railways have appeared to be doing well with westbound movements toward Vancouver. This past week was a continuation of that trend, as train volumes increased slightly for the second week in a row. The seven-day-average number of trains westbound toward Vancouver rose to 28.1 trains/day as of 1/23/2023, an increase of 0.5 trains/day from the average of 27.6 trains/day for the previous week ending 1/16/2023. Throughout the week ending 1/23, the total train volumes were above the 25.7 trains/day required to move the current grain harvest and the typical volume of other commodities.

Rail Capacity for Westbound Trains Moving to Port of Vancouver January 23, 2023

Observations for Week (1/17/2023-1/23/2023):

  • The 7-day moving average number of trains moving westbound past Chilliwack was 28.1 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.
  • During the week ended 1/23/2023, the 7-day moving average for total trains increased by 0.5 trains/day, rising from 27.6 trains/day as of 1/16 to 28.1 trains/day as of 1/23.

We estimate that about 5 grain trains/day are required to move the expected grain harvest. The railways moved an average of 7.4 grain trains/day during the week ending 1/23/2023, well above the required average.

As of 1/23/2023, rail traffic in four of the seven categories we track was above its long-term average level. Manifest trains (4.3 trains/day), grain (7.4 trains/day), petroleum (2.9 trains/day), and other traffic (1.3 trains/day were all above their long-term average levels. Coal traffic (4.7 trains/day), intermodal traffic (6.6 trains/day), and potash (1.0 trains/day), were all below their long-term average levels, with intermodal traffic remaining below its long-term average for the eleventh week in a row.

We will continue to monitor the corridor to Vancouver during the grain season and provide updates on trends we’re seeing.

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