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The Canadian railway industry saw a decline in the volume of cargo carried in August, the result of a drop in commodities loaded in Canada as well as traffic received from the United States.
Total freight traffic originating in Canada and freight received from the United States dropped to 21.2 million metric tonnes in August, down 16.8% from August 2008. This marked the lowest amount of traffic carried for the month of August in 10 years.
Freight loaded by the Canadian railway industry's core transportation systems, non-intermodal and intermodal, accounted for the majority of the overall drop in cargo loaded. The industry loaded 18.8 million metric tonnes of cargo in August, down 17.0% from August 2008.
Non-intermodal freight loadings, which are typically carried in bulk or loaded in box cars, fell 16.9% to 16.7 million metric tonnes. The decrease was the result of reduced loadings in the majority of the commodity groups carried by the railways. The commodity groups with the largest declines by tonnage were iron ore and concentrates (down 1.2 million metric tonnes), potash, coal, and iron and steel, primary or semi-finished.
Despite the overall drop in non-intermodal loadings, the industry saw significant gains in tonnage loadings of wheat, other cereal grains, and animal or vegetable fats, oils and flours.
Intermodal freight loadings, transported through containers and trailers loaded onto flat cars, decreased 18.3% compared with August 2008 to 2.0 million metric tonnes.
Rail freight traffic coming from the United States dropped to 2.5 million metric tonnes, down 15.0% from August 2008.
From a geographic perspective, 58.7% of the overall volume of cargo loaded by Canadian railways was in the Western Division of Canada, with the remainder loaded in the Eastern Division. The Eastern and Western Divisions, for statistical purposes, are separated by an imaginary line running from Thunder Bay to Armstrong, Ontario. Freight loaded at Thunder Bay is included in the Western Division while loadings at Armstrong are reported in the Eastern Division.
Available on CANSIM: table 404-0002.
Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 2732.
The August 2009 issue of Monthly Railway Carloadings, Vol. 86, no. 8 (52-001-X, free), is now available from the Publications module of our website.
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