RailState independently tracks all freight rail movements across Canada in real-time, including traffic flows through the major western Canada ports region.
Overall traffic moving into the western ports region increased in August, going from 118,477 carloads moving to the ports in July to 131,338 carloads, an increase of 10.9%. Daily average volume in August was 4,378 carloads per day. The increase over July was expected due to the decrease in export traffic in July caused by the strike at the western Canada ports, which we have previously covered here.
Westbound volumes in August were slightly higher than June volumes but were lower than March, April, and May.
We would have expected increased westbound traffic in August to make up for backlogs caused during the strike in July but the railroads experienced additional disruptions in August from wildfire activity throughout British Columbia. RailState covered the impact of the wildfires here.
**Note** Westbound traffic into the ports region includes some traffic that ultimately moves southbound into the United States on BNSF,. This is about 12.5% of traffic headed into the ports region. We include all freight cars moving into the ports region. The majority of carloads are headed to the ports for export but intermodal and vehicular cars headed westbound are typically empty. We have included these car types to monitor the overall traffic situation in the region and not to serve as a direct measurement of exports.
CPKC is heavily weighted toward coal moving through the Port of Vancouver, carrying twice the proportion of coal cars (31.8%) than CN (15.8%).
With Neptune Terminals at the Port of Vancouver closed in the first half of July because of the dockworkers strike, CPKC experienced a significant drop in coal exports, which we have covered here. The CPKC westbound car mix did not change much from July to August but volumes were down across commodities.