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INDUSTRY PULSE: Railway freight volume dips in November

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Canada's railways carried slightly less freight in November than they did the month before, accordi...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Canada’s railways carried slightly less freight in November than they did the month before, according to a Statistics Canada report today.

Railway carloadings totalled 24.7 million metric tonnes in November, down 0.3% from the revised 24.8 million metric tonnes loaded in October.
Tonnage in the non-intermodal component was virtually unchanged. Loadings in the intermodal part fell 3.6%, typical for containerized goods, which always show a downward trend from October into January.

Freight coming from the United States, either destined for or passing through Canada, fell 3.0% from October to 2.5 million metric tonnes. Despite this slight drop, tonnage from the United States was the highest reported for the month of November since 1999.

On a commodity basis, an ongoing demand for primary goods has supported loadings of most metallic ores and concentrates.

The biggest gain occurred in iron ore shipments, which rose by about 400,000 metric tonnes, equivalent to a 14.2% increase from October.
November wheat loadings totalled just over 2 million metric tonnes, up 10.3% from October. It was the fourth consecutive monthly increase for wheat loadings.

On the other hand, loadings related to the manufacturing sector were somewhat weaker. Combined loadings of parts and accessories for motor vehicles, automobiles and minivans, as well as motor vehicles intended to carry freight, have shown levels well below previous year averages.

In fact, combined loadings of these three transportation groups during 7 of the previous 11 months in 2006 were at their lowest levels since 1999. While loadings in November showed some sign of recovery, loadings in September and October registered the steepest monthly year-over-year declines compared with 2005. Reductions exceeded 20% for these two months, equivalent to a decline of more than 4,500 carloads.

On a year-over-year-basis, non-intermodal tonnage remained the same as November 2005 as did intermodal loadings. Traffic received from the United States rose 2.2%.

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