UpdateCanada chem rail traffic falls for fourth week in a row

02 February 2012 19:49  [Source: ICIS news]

(updates with Canadian and Mexican chemical railcar traffic data)

TORONTO (ICIS)--Chemical shipments on Canadian railroads fell by 13.4% year on year in the week ended on 28 January, marking their fourth decline in as many weeks this year, according to data released by an industry association on Thursday.

Canadian chemical railcar loadings for the week totalled 10,290, down from 11,878 in the same week in 2011, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said.

The previous week ended 21 January saw a year-on-year decline of 16.4%.

The weekly chemical railcar loadings data are seen as important real-time measures of chemical industry activity and demand. Canada’s chemical industry transports two-thirds of its annual shipments on the country’s railway system.

In the year to date to 28 January, Canadian chemical railcar loadings were down by 16.6% year on year to 37,910.

The AAR said weekly chemical railcar traffic in Mexico rose by 35.2% year on year to 1,157 from 856 in the same week a year earlier. Year to date to 28 January, Mexican chemical railcar loadings were up by 7.7% to 4,157.

US chemical railcar traffic fell by 1.6% year on year for the week ended 28 January, marking its second decline so far this year.

There were 30,410 chemical railcar loadings last week, compared with 30,896 in the same week in 2011. In the previous week ended 21 January, US weekly chemical railcar shipments rose by 1.1% year on year. 

Year to date to 28 January, US chemical railcar loadings were down 2.3%, to 118,052, compared with the same period in 2011.

Meanwhile, overall US weekly railcar traffic for the 19 high-volume freight commodity groups tracked by the AAR fell by 2.8% year on year to 283,654 carloads.

For the month of January, overall US carloads were basically flat, inching up by 0.1% to 1.14m from the same month in 2011.

However, a number of commodity categories — including many that are correlated with GDP growth — saw large increases in January, AAR senior vice president John Gray said.

“That’s a sign that the underlying economy is probably stronger than you would think if you just looked at the rail traffic totals,” Gray said.

For all of North America, total railcar traffic for the week ended 28 January was down by 1.4% to 373,146 as declines in the US and Mexico more than offset a 5.4% year-on-year increase in Canada.

For the month of January, total North American railcar loadings were up by 0.3% to 1.48m from the same month a year ago.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in his Chemicals and the Economy Blog

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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