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Railway carloadings, November 2022

Released: 2023-01-25

Railway carloadings, total tonnage

32.1 million metric tonnes

November 2022

10.1% increase

(12-month change)

Highlights

Canadian railways carried 32.1 million tonnes of freight during November, up 10.1% compared with November 2021. Higher carloadings of Canadian grains contributed substantially to this second straight month of year-over-year growth.

This annual increase also reflects lower volumes reported during November 2021, with major disruptions to rail freight in the west amid flooding and landslides that damaged main lines in southern British Columbia.

To further explore current and historical data in an interactive format, please visit the "Monthly Railway Carloadings: Interactive Dashboard."

Chart 1  Chart 1: Railway carloadings, total tonnage
Railway carloadings, total tonnage

November's increase in total rail freight reflected a higher volume of domestic loadings, both non-intermodal loadings (mainly commodities) and intermodal loadings (mainly containers).

Grains lead increase

The tonnage of non-intermodal freight―on an upward trend since May 2022—rose sharply by 14.6% year over year to 25.6 million tonnes in November. While growth was widespread, it was driven by considerable increases in the loadings of some agricultural products―most notably grains.

Grain shipments by rail continue to reflect a bumper harvest from more favourable growing conditions across the Prairies in 2022. For example, carloadings of wheat rose year over year for the third month in a row, up 89.8% (+1 127 000 tonnes)—following substantial increases in October (+100.7%) and September (+65.1%).

Similarly, loadings of canola posted a year-over-year increase for the second consecutive month, up by 55.1% (+418 000 tonnes) compared with November 2021. This gain reflects a rebound in Canadian canola production which, as previously reported by Statistics Canada, increased by 32.1% nationally in 2022, driven by higher yields.

Canada's exports of wheat (+147.7%) and canola (+35.8%) prospered in November, both growing year over year as per the International trade monthly interactive dashboard. These year-over-year increases also reflect lower levels delivered by rail for export in November 2021, due to the impacts of widespread flooding in British Columbia.

In addition, loadings of other cereal grains increased for the first time in more than a year in November, up 67.3% (+282 000 tonnes) from the same period in 2021, while other oil seeds and nuts, other agricultural product were 46.5% (+278 000 tonnes) above November 2021 levels.

Finally, significant increases were reported for coal, with loadings rising year over year by 32.3% (+678 000 tonnes) in November, starting to offset two consecutive months of lower volumes.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Railway carloadings, largest commodity differences, November 2021 to November 2022
Railway carloadings, largest commodity differences, November 2021 to November 2022

Some commodities remain down

The above-noted growth in non-intermodal freight traffic was moderated by the continued declines of several commodities. Loadings of iron ores and concentrates dipped 4.0% (-203 000 tonnes) year over year in November, a second month of year-over-year decline.

Meanwhile, loadings of fuel oils and crude petroleum have declined year over year for six straight months, down 15.6% (-167 000 tonnes) in November.

Loadings of other chemical products and preparations also fell 42.6% (-76 000 tonnes) over the same period, marking the 13th consecutive month of declines.

Finally, loadings of lumber decreased 5.7% (-45 000 tonnes) year over year in November, a second consecutive month of decline, while loadings of fertilizers (excluding potash) were 11.4% (-39 000 tonnes) below November 2021 levels.

Domestic intermodal traffic holding steady

Intermodal shipments originating from Canada—mainly containers—continued their upward trend, rising 6.7% year over year to 3.0 million tonnes in November, the fifth straight month of a year-over-year increase.

Despite this increase, intermodal rail volume was at a relatively low level for the month of November—perhaps reflecting weaker demand for consumer goods. According to data on Canadian international merchandise trade, Canada's imports and exports of consumer goods weakened somewhat in November.

American freight remains down

Traffic received from connections with US railways saw a year-over-year decline for the third consecutive month, falling 12.5% to 3.5 million tonnes in November, following similar declines in October (-16.3%) and September (-12.0%).

  Note to readers

The Monthly Railway Carloadings Survey collects data on the number of rail cars, tonnage, units and 20-feet equivalent units from railway transporters operating in Canada that provide for-hire freight services.

Cargo loadings from Armstrong, Ontario, to the Atlantic Coast are classified to the eastern division (eastern Canada), while loadings from Thunder Bay, Ontario, to the Pacific Coast are classified to the western division (western Canada).

Survey data are revised on a monthly basis to reflect new information.

The data in this release are not seasonally adjusted.

The Transportation Data and Information Hub provides Canadians with online access to comprehensive statistics and measures on the country's transportation sector.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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