Railway tonnage posts strong results in March

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OTTAWA, Ont. — Railways reported an increase in loaded tonnage in March after recovering from a work disruption that affected rail traffic for about two weeks in February, Statistics Canada reports.

Total tonnage increased to 23.4 million metric tonnes, up 16.1% from February.

Of this total, 2.5 million metric tonnes consisted of intermodal freight, an 18.6% increase from February.

About 21.0 million tonnes consisted of non-intermodal freight, up 15.8%.

While February was influenced by a labour dispute that affected rail traffic across the country, traffic in March was affected by several train derailments.

Railway business in March was also hit by a strike in the iron ore sector. Iron ore loadings fell by just over one million metric tonnes, from 2.7 million metric tonnes in March last year to 1.7 million metric tonnes this March. This was equivalent to a 39.5% decline.

Aside from the derailments and the strike, most non-intermodal commodities showed an increase between February and March. This was in part the result of a rebound effect from the interruptions in February.

Freight coming from the United States, either destined for or passing through Canada, jumped 21.6% between February and March to nearly 2.8 million metric tonnes, the highest volume since 1999.

Traffic received from Canadian connections, an indicator of the interaction between railways in Canada showed a 17.5% increase in tonnage from February.

On a year-over-year-basis, non-intermodal tonnage dropped 7.3% from March 2006. Intermodal loadings remained about the same, edging up 0.5%. Traffic received from the United States rose 13.3%.

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