In recent weeks, Canada's Transport Minister Marc Garneau told media, "We have a robust system this year because of the investments made by the railway companies" and that "I think the railways are much better prepared this year than they were in the past."
Despite the harvest delays experienced in the western Prairies, primary elevator producer deliveries are reported at a cumulative 6.6782 million metric tons as of week 7, up .4% from the previous crop year and 3.8% higher than the five-year average for this week. A significant carryover from 2017/18 has contributed to these deliveries and has a harvest pace in some areas that is ahead of the five-year average.
The Ag Transport Coalition reports that, as of week 7, a total of 49,473 hopper cars were supplied by CN and CP Rail, with total demand or cars ordered reported at 52,059 cars, indicating that 95% of the cars ordered have been supplied to-date (grey bars on the attached graphic). Looking at the past two years data, this exceeds the 94.6% calculated for the same period in 2016/17 (blue bars) and the 94.3% calculated in 2017/18 (brown bars).
As seen on the attached graphic, not all corridors are benefiting from this performance and bears watching. The grey bars would suggest that performance excels in the high-volume corridors of Vancouver bulk shipping (95.9% of cars ordered supplied), Prince Rupert (97.2% supplied) and Thunder Bay (96.8% supplied).
Corridors where the railways struggle are seen in the Vancouver, other and Western Canada shipping channel, where 83.8% of cars ordered were spotted, while 80.7% of the U.S./Mexico cars have been spotted and 93.3% of the Eastern Canada cars spotted. In all three of these shipping corridors, the number of cars supplied as a percentage of those ordered trails the previous two years.
Of the total unfulfilled shipper demand reported of 2,586 cars, as of week 7, 951 cars or 36.8% are reported to be CN cars while the balance is CP cars. In the first seven weeks, only 453 cars are reported as railway cancellations or rationed cars, as compared to 1,487 cancelled cars this time last year, a number that grew past 20,000 due to failure on the CN side.
Cliff Jamieson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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