Canada Markets

Shipper Demand/Railway Performance Diverges in Week 34

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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Weekly data shows the demand for loading cars by the largest prairie shippers reached 8,331 hopper cars for week 34 (blue line), 4.3% higher than one year ago and the highest seen in 17 weeks. (DTN graphic by Cliff Jamieson)

The AG Transport Coalition's week 34 Weekly Performance Update shows a sharp rise in shipper demand for cars for loading while railway performance is seen moving in the opposite direction.

In week 34, or the week ending March 24, major prairie shippers accounting for 90% of the grain shipped requested 8,331 hopper cars for loading, the highest number of cars requested in 17 weeks, the ninth highest demand seen this crop year, up 4.4% from one year ago and 22.5% higher than the three-year average.

Week 34 demand for shipping was only the fifth time this crop year that demand was higher than the same week in 2022-23, while on average, weekly demand in 2023-24 has been 1,197 cars lower than the same week in the previous crop year.

At the same time, the railroads are seen struggling. In week 34, CN and CP spotted only 60% of the cars wanted during the week, down from 70% in the previous week after dipping as low as 56% in week 32. This percentage is well below the 90% threshold used by the coalition for the 11th consecutive week.

As a result, outstanding orders climbed by 1,347 cars over the past week to 3,707 cars, the highest count for outstanding orders seen this crop year. As recently as week 20, the outstanding order count was zero. This is up from 421 cars reported for the same week in 2022-23, is the highest reported for this week in five years and 108% higher than the five-year average for this week.

Cliff Jamieson can be reached at

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