OTTAWA, Ont. — Railways carried their heaviest monthly freight load of 2004 in November, thanks to booming demand for Canadian coal in Asia and a rebound in wheat shipments, Statistics Canada reported this morning. Railways transported 24.9 million metric tonnes of freight, up 3.2% from October and surpassing the previous high for 2004 in April by almost half a million tonnes.
Non-intermodal loadings totalled 22.6 million tonnes, up 3.7% from October. The non-intermodal volume for November was also the highest volume for 2004. About 287,600 carloads were required to carry the non-intermodal freight in November.
Shipments of coal reached 3.1 million tonnes in November, nearly 275,000 tonnes over October’s level, making it the highest monthly level since June 2002.
"Strong demand from Asian countries, particularly China, is pushing the price of coal to unprecedented levels, resulting in renewed coal mining activities and increases in rail loadings. Nickel and copper ore, also appear to be profiting from this Pacific-rim economic boom," Statistics Canada noted in its Daily Bulletin.
Wheat loadings hit 1.8 million tonnes in November, a strong comeback from the total of less than one million tonnes in September. Shipments of gaseous hydrocarbons were also on the rise to accommodate the demand caused by the colder weather.
The intermodal portion, that is, containers and trailers hauled on flat cars, fell 1.4% to 2.4 million tonnes, mostly the result of a decline in containerized goods compared with those carried in trailers on flat cars. Freight arriving from the United States, either destined for or passing through Canada, totalled 2.5 million tonnes, up 8.9% from October.
All categories went up compared with November 2003, non-intermodal tonnage was up 8.9%, intermodal traffic was up 3.4% while traffic received from the United States increased 5.6%. Coal, potash, wheat and lumber loadings showed the most increase from November 2003.
On a year-to-date basis, the cumulative total for non-intermodal loadings for the first 11 months of 2004 grew 6.5% compared with the same period of 2003. Tonnage shipped between January and November amounted to 227.8 million tonnes, compared with 213.8 million tonnes in the same period in 2003.
Intermodal loadings increased 1.5% to 24.5 million tonnes, while traffic received from the United States hit 24.3 million tonnes, up 1.7% over the same period.
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