OTTAWA, Ont. — Railway loadings surged in May, reaching their highest monthly level in more than two years, Statistics Canada reports.
The rise in total loadings was largely attributed to the growth in coal, iron and wheat. Canadian railways loaded 25.8 million metric tonnes of freight, up 9.6% from April. It was the highest volume since March 2005, bringing tonnage well above typical levels for May.
Non-intermodal tonnage for May reached 23.3 million metric tonnes, up 10.2% from April. Loadings of coal in Canada have increased sharply since January 2007, rising from 2.0 million metric tonnes to 3.5 million metric tonnes in May 2007. Transportation problems in Australia, one of the world’s largest coal producers, have created an opportunity for Canadian coal producers to fill the gap.
Loadings of iron ore rose by about 1.1 million metric tonnes to 2.8 million metric tonnes, as freight rebounded following the end of a labour dispute that had affected mining operations. Loadings of wheat surpassed 2.1 million metric tonnes in May, their highest level since July 2000.
Loadings of sand, gravel and crushed stones climbed 31.3% to a total of 270.3 thousand metric tonnes. Loadings of cement followed suit, surging 28.8% to a total of 285.9 thousand metric tonnes.
Loadings of commodities related to the automotive industry all increased in May. Best measured in carloads, loadings of automobiles and minivans climbed 10.0% from April to 14,930 rail cars.
On the intermodal front, loadings of containers on flat cars rose 5.0% from April to 2.4 million metric tonnes. Trailers on flat cars, the smaller component of intermodal traffic, edged up 1.6% to 83,000 metric tonnes.
Since 2003, loadings of trailers on flat cars have steadily been losing ground to loadings of containers on flat cars. At their peak in October 2003, loadings of trailers carried on flat cars accounted for 7.3% of the intermodal tonnage. Currently, they account for only 3.4%. In May, freight coming from the United States, either destined for or passing through Canada, still remained well above the level posted in previous months. Tonnage edged up by about 120,000 metric tonnes from the 2.6 million metric tonnes reported in April.
On a year-over-year basis, non-intermodal tonnage climbed 4.9% from May 2006, while intermodal loadings edged up 1.2%.
Traffic received from the United States remained well above last year’s volume for the third consecutive month, rising 10.6% between May 2006 and May 2007.
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