Canadian rail traffic up in 2010

by MM&D staff

OTTAWA: Canadian railway traffic improved in 2010 as weekly carloads showed gains over 2009, according to the Railway Association of Canada (RAC).

In its 2010 Railway Trends annual report, the RAC said volume in mid-December reached 3.6 million carloads, up 17 percent from the previous year.

The report also notes Canada’s railways invested $1.5 billion in capital additions in 2009—a10-percent increase over 2008. Expenditures included upgrades to infrastructure, locomotive, freight and passenger car acquisition and new information technology.

Track and roadway additions worth $706 million represented almost half of total spending. At $317 million, the second-highest spending was on rolling stock additions.

“Capital programs for the renewal of rail infrastructure and the acquisition of rolling stock and other investments contribute to growth opportunities, as well as to improving rail’s productivity and the fluidity of rail networks,” said RAC president Cliff Mackay.

Rail traffic dropped in 2009 due to the global economic slowdown. With the exception of agriculture and manufactured and miscellaneous goods, the movement of freight goods fell 11 percent year-over-year, with the largest declines in minerals, metals and intermodal volumes.

Total industry revenue of $9.6 billion declined $1.6 billion, or 14.3 percent, year-over-year. Freight revenue—the largest component of the industry’s revenue—fell $1.5 billion to its lowest level since 2004. Other revenue for 2009, almost totally generated by freight rail, dropped $40 million.

Total operating income of $1.2 billion fell just under $1 billion in 2009 compared to 2008, with the decline partially offset by a reduction in operating expenses. The industry recorded its lowest operating income of the past decade.

Rail industry fuel expenses fell $820 million (40 percent) in 2009 since consumption declined 14 percent and fuel prices fell over 30 percent.