Statistics Canada reports that Canadian railways carried 28.3 million tonnes of freight in July, down 4.0% from July 2020 levels. This marked the first notable year-over-year decline in rail volumes in eight months, when the industry emerged from the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic last fall.
The Federal Agency notes that fewer shipments of grains and other commodities were the main contributors, as there were wildfires burning across British Columbia that damaged rail lines and caused a backlog of some shipments.
Non-intermodal rail carloadings drove the overall decline in July, falling 9.0% year over year to 21.8 million tonnes in July, led by declines in some agricultural and food products.
Intermodal shipments-mainly containers-originating in Canada totalled just over 2.8 million tonnes in July, up 8.4% from July 2020, following larger year-over-year increases in June (+28.6%) and May (+35.2%).
Helping to offset the tonnage decline in non-intermodal or commodity loadings was freight traffic connecting from the United States, which posted a year-over-year increase for a fifth consecutive month. These connections rose 26.1% to 3.7 million tonnes in July, following an even stronger gain in June (+36.1%).