According to Statistics Canada, in November, the Canadian railway industry appeared to have recovered strongly from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic recorded earlier in the year.
Canadian railways carried 32.1 million tons of freight during the month, up 6.0 percent compared with November 2019. This was the first increase since March 2020, following seven straight months of year-over-year declines. The overall tonnage was higher than normal levels for this time of year, well above the 10-year average for this month and just below the peak reached in November 2018.
However, with a labor disruption affecting Canadian rail transport during November 2019, Statistics Canada noted that it is not possible to attribute all of this month’s year-over-year growth to a post-pandemic recovery.
During the first 11 months of 2020, the volume of goods moved by rail totaled 332.8 million tons, down 5.9 percent compared with the same period in 2019. This was the lowest cumulative total for the January-to-November period in four years. The growth in rail freight in November was due to higher volumes of domestic non-intermodal and intermodal loadings.
Year-over-year, loadings of certain raw mineral and basic chemical commodities also increased in November. Iron ores and concentrates loadings were up 5.4 percent (+260,000 tons) from the same month in 2019, following a 1.7 percent decline in October.
In November 2020, freight traffic from the United States remained well below the volume recorded in 2019 for an eighth consecutive month, falling 11.8 percent to 2.7 million tons. However, the decrease in November was the lowest year-over-year decline in freight traffic from the United States since April 2020.