Canada Markets

Rail Shipping Better but Needs to Continue Improving

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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The Western Canada rail situation is showing some improvements as of week 30. As seen on the attached chart, unfilled demand for hopper cars for the Vancouver bulk market totals 4,653 cars (blue bar against the primary vertical axis), which represents 62.5% of the total unfilled demand (brown line against the secondary vertical axis). (DTN graphic by Cliff Jamieson)

Demand for empty hoppers for loading in week 30, or the week ending Feb. 27, increased to 4,016 cars according to weekly AG Transport Coalition data, the highest demand seen in four weeks. This remains down sharply from the 9,594 cars wanted for loading in the same week of 2020-21 and the three-year average of 9,087 cars for the week.

Despite the weak demand, Canada's two major railways spotted only 63% of the cars wanted for loading during the week, which was the highest percentage achieved in 10 weeks while only the second time that this percentage has been above 60% in 14 weeks.

This week's achievement represents a lopsided performance, with CN spotting 77% of the cars wanted for the week during the shipping week, the highest achieved in 14 weeks. CP Rail spotted 51% of the cars wanted for loading, falling for a second week, while close to the lowest percentage reported in nine weeks.

As seen on the attached chart, unfilled demand for the West Coast ports remains the largest contributor to this data, with the blue bars indicating 4,653 cars of unfilled demand for Vancouver bulk movement and a further 530 cars for Prince Rupert, or 5,183 cars in total. This is close to five times the number reported for next largest number or 1,041 cars reported for the Eastern Canada corridor.

The number of cars that make up the unfilled demand for Vancouver accounts for 62.5% of the total unfilled demand, while Prince Rupert accounts for an additional 7.1%, for a total of 69.6% of the total unfilled demand or 7,444 hopper cars.

While this remains a large number, the 5,183 cars of unfilled demand (Vancouver plus Prince Rupert) are down from 7,114 cars reported for week 27, which shows improvement.

Of the unfilled demand, outstanding orders of 2,399 hopper cars are down for a third week and the lowest reported since week 16, or 14 weeks.



DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman will be hosting a post-report webinar at 12:30 p.m. CST on March 9, with free registration found at:…. We welcome all to join us!

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