UpdateCanada chemical railcar traffic falls for 13th week in a row

05 April 2012 19:48  [Source: ICIS news]

(updates with Canadian and Mexican chemical railcar traffic data)

TORONTO (ICIS)--Chemical shipments on Canadian railroads fell by 18.5% year on year in the week ended on 31 March, marking their thirteenth decline in as many weeks this year, according to data released by a rail industry association on Thursday.

Canadian chemical railcar loadings for the week totalled 11,107, down from 13,623 in the same week in 2011, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said.

The previous week, ended 24 March, saw a year-on-year decline of 10.1%.

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.

From 1 January to 31 March, Canadian chemical railcar loadings were down by 12.8% year on year to 133,727.

The AAR said weekly chemical railcar traffic in Mexico rose by 6.9% year on year to 1,314 carloads. From 1 January to 31 March, Mexican chemical railcar loadings were up by 2.6% to 15,163.

US chemical railcar traffic fell by 5.3% year on year for the week ended 31 March, marking its fourth decline in a row and the eighth decline so far this year.

There were 31,271 chemical railcar loadings last week, compared with 33,035 in the corresponding week of 2011. In the previous week, ended 24 March, US weekly chemical railcar loadings fell by 3.6%.

From 1 January to 31 March, US chemical railcar loadings were down by 1.3%, to 393,871, compared with the corresponding period of last year.

Meanwhile, overall US weekly railcar loadings for the 19 high-volume freight commodity groups tracked by the AAR fell by 6.2% year on year to 286,962 carloads.

For the month of March, overall carloads were down 5.8% year on year to 1,123,298, led by a decline in coal, which is by far the largest among the 19 commodity groups.

“It is encouraging that many commodities that are better indicators of the state of the economy than coal is — things like motor vehicles, lumber and wood products, and crushed stone — saw higher rail carloadings in March,” said AAR senior vice president John Gray in commenting on the past month. 

For all of North America, total railcar traffic for the week ended 31 March was down by 4.7% to 381,505.

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

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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