RailState Rail Capacity Report January 3-9, 2023

We’ve been reporting on the Grain movement in Canada to the Port of Vancouver for the last sixteen 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 returned to normal after the holiday slowdown over the previous two weeks. The seven-day-average number of trains westbound toward Vancouver rose to 27.1 trains/day as of 1/9/2023, an increase of 3.4 trains/day from the average of 23.7 trains/day for the previous week ending 1/2/2023.

Rail Capacity for Westbound Trains Moving to Port of Vancouver January 9 2023

Observations for Week (1/3/2023-1/9/2023):

  • The 7-day moving average number of trains moving westbound past Chilliwack was 27.1 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 only 2 out of 7 days during this past week.
  • During the week ended 1/9/2023, the 7-day moving average for total trains increased by 3.4 trains/day, rising from 23.7 trains/day as of 1/2 to 27.1 trains/day as of 1/9.

We estimate that about 5 grain trains/day are required to move the expected grain harvest. The railways moved an average of 8.3 grain trains/day during the week ending 1/9/2023, well above the required average.

However, as of 1/9/2023, rail traffic in four of the seven categories we track was below its long-term average level. Intermodal traffic (5.9 trains/day), coal (4.7 trains/day), and potash (1.3 trains/day) were all below their long-term average levels for the ninth week in a row. Other traffic fell to 0.6 trains/day, well below its long-term average level of 1.0 trains/day. Grain traffic (8.3 trains/day), manifest trains (3.9 trains/day), and petroleum (2.6 trains/day), were above their long-term average levels.

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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