Railway strike takes bite out of carloadings

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OTTAWA, Ont. — Rail freight fell considerably in February, partly as a result of a 15-day railway strike, which interrupted regular transportation patterns, as well as other factors, Statistics Canada records indicate.

Canada’s railways carried 20.2 million metric tonnes of goods in February, compared with 23.1 million tonnes in January. February’s carloadings were down 12.4% from January this year and down 4.7% from February 2006.

Commodities reported under the non-intermodal category went from 20.9 million metric tonnes to 18.1 million metric tonnes, a 13.1% decline from January. Loadings of containers and trailers on flat cars declined 6.1%.

While tonnage fell in many commodities because of the labour dispute and the shorter month, these two factors were not the only contributors.
Others included adverse weather on the West Coast, several derailments, and ongoing restructuring in sectors, such as the automotive and wood and paper industries, as well as fires that halted production in two oil refineries.
Freight coming from the United States, either destined for or passing through Canada, fell 9.5% to 2.3 million metric tonnes. This decline was consistent with performances in past Februaries, but it was also a result of the other factors as well.

On a year over-year-basis, non-intermodal tonnage dropped 6.8% from February 2006, while intermodal loadings were virtually unchanged (-0.5%). Traffic received from the United States was up 8.7%.

Traffic received from Canadian connections, an indicator of the interaction between domestic railways, showed a 21.7% drop in tonnage compared with February 2006.

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