UpdateUS weekly chemical rail traffic rises 13.9% year over year

10 December 2009 18:51  [Source: ICIS news]

(adds statistics and background in paragraphs 7 to 18)

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Chemical shipments on US railroads rose 13.9% last week from the same time last year, marking their seventh increase this year and the fourth in a row, an industry association said on Thursday.

Chemical railcar loadings for the week ended on 5 December were 29,415, up 3,595 car loads from 25,820 in the same week last year, according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

The increase for the week comes after a 13.2% year-over-year increase in the previous week ended on 28 November.

The weekly chemical railcar loadings data are seen as an important measure of chemical industry activity and demand. Railcar loadings represent about 20% of chemical volumes by tonnage, with trucks, barges and pipelines carrying the rest.

The increase in chemical shipments compares with a 5.4% year-over-year decrease in overall weekly railcar shipments for the 19 commodity categories tracked by the AAR. Chemicals were one of nine commodity categories with a year-over-year increase last week.

Year-to-date to 5 December, US chemical railcar loadings were down 11.2% to 1,265,928, from 1,425,642 in the year-earlier period.

The AAR also provided comparable chemical railcar shipment data for Canada, Mexico and the whole of North America.

Canadian chemical rail traffic for the week ended on 5 December fell 1.5% to 12,936 from 13,137 in the same week last year.

A 5-day strike by some 1,700 Canadian National (CN) locomotive engineers, which ended on 3 December, did not disrupt shipments as CN quickly deployed management staff to operate services during the strike.

For the year-to-date period, Canadian shipments were down 19.5% to 570,669 from 708,970 shipments in the same period in 2008.

Mexican weekly chemical rail traffic rose 0.9% to 924 from 916 in the same week a year earlier.

For the year-to-date period, Mexican shipments were up 23.8% to 53,250 from 43,194 in the same period last year.

For all of North America, chemical railcar shipments rose 8.5% for the week ended on 5 December to 43,275 from 39,873 in the same week in 2008.

For the year-to-date period, overall North American chemical railcar traffic was down 13.2% to 1,889,847 from 2,177,806 in the year-earlier period.

Overall, the AAR tracks 19 carload commodity categories.

From the same week last year, total US weekly railcar traffic for the 19 carload commodity categories fell 5.4% to 284,177 and was down 16.9% to 12.9m year to date.

For all of North America, railcar traffic sank 6.7% to 359,146 and fell 17.2% to 16.4m in the year-to-date period ended on 5 December.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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