RailState Rail Capacity Report Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2022

We’ve been reporting on the Grain movement in Canada to the Port of Vancouver for the last eleven weeks. For most of this period, the railways have appeared to be doing well with westbound movements toward Vancouver. The past week (ending 12/5/2022) was a continuation of that trend.  Although total train volumes decreased significantly (falling from 27.9 trains/day for the week ending 11/28/22 to 26.0 trains/day for the week ending 12/5), the total train volumes as of 12/5 were still above the 25.7 trains/day required to move the current grain harvest and the typical volume of other commodities.  

Observations for Week 11/29-12/5/2022

  • The 7-day moving average number of trains moving westbound past Chilliwack was 26.0 trains/day, just 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 6 of the 7 days during this past week.
  • During the week ended 12/5/2022, the 7 day moving average for total trains decreased by 1.9 trains/day from the previous week, from 27.9 to 26.0 trains/day.

We estimate that about 5 grain trains/day are required to move the expected grain harvest. For the past week, the railways moved 9.0 grain trains/day, below the high of 9.4 grain trains/day achieved in October, but well above the required average. 

However, during the week ending 12/5/22, six of the seven categories of rail traffic we track (i.e., all categories other than grain traffic) were below their long-term average levels.  Intermodal (6.3 trains/day), coal (3.4 trains/day), and potash (1.4 trains/day) were all below their long-term average levels for the fourth week in a row (although potash traffic did see slight increases during the week ended 12/5/22.) Manifest train traffic decreased significantly during the week ended 12/5/22, falling from 4.3 trains/day as of 11/28/22 to 3.0 trains/day as of 12/5. Petroleum traffic fell slightly to 2.0 trains/day, and was below its long-term average for the second week in a row. Other traffic fell slightly to 0.9 trains/day.  

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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