CN has banner month for grain, while Watco completes $6.7 million expansion
October record month for hauling western Canadian grain
October was the “single best month ever” for western Canadian grain movements for CN, with the railway hauling more than 3.23 million metric tons of grain during the month.
This exceeds the previous record, set in October 2020, by over 50,000 metric tons, even in the face of supply chain challenges, CN said Wednesday. The month also includes an-all time weekly record for western Canadian grain movements.
“Our performance is a testament to what can be accomplished through supply chain cooperation and collaboration. When the end-to-end supply chain runs well, we can move grain to ports and return railcars quickly to elevators to get more grain on the move,” CN Chief Marketing Officer Doug MacDonald said in a release. “We would like to thank our supply chain partners for their part in this accomplishment and we look forward to continuing to work together.”
Watco completes expansion of Texas facility
Watco’s $6.7 million expansion of rail, storage and transloading facility near Refugio, Texas, is complete.
The improvements to the Refugio Transload Terminal increase railcar capacity and provide heightened security to the 600-car storage-in-transit (SIT) yard, Watco said Tuesday.
Other improvements include 20,000 linear feet of track, more than 12,000 feet of perimeter fencing and 24/7 camera surveillance at the yard.
Union Pacific and BNSF serve the facility, which includes eight 2,000-ton concrete silos and conveyor systems for handling bulk commodities. It also has an automatic truck transloading system to handle oil, gas and chemicals. The facility handles highway-rail transloading of wind energy components, sand and other aggregates, steel products, and agricultural products as well, Watco said.
“We’re helping our customers optimize the space at their facilities for producing product and we take away the burden of managing loaded and empty railcar storage,” Marc Massoglia, Watco senior vice president of terminals and ports, said in a release. “This is not an isolated opportunity. Watco can create SIT yards like this one at pretty much any of our short line railroads or any of the terminals and ports in our network.”
US rail traffic ticks down in October
U.S. freight railroads originated 2.01 million carloads and intermodal units in October, slipping 0.5% compared with October 2021, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Of that, carloads rose 0.5% year over year to 952,074 carloads on higher grain volumes but lower chemicals volumes, while intermodal originations fell 1.4% to 1.06 million containers and trailers. Volumes for coal, motor vehicles and parts, and crushed stone, sand and gravel were also higher year over year.
“October is usually one of the highest-volume months of the year for rail carloads, and it’s the top month so far this year,” AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray said in a release. “Carloads of grain surged upward as U.S. producers sought alternatives to the Mississippi River constraints while motor vehicles had one of their better months since pre-pandemic times. Carloads of chemicals were down in part because of high natural gas feedstock prices. U.S. intermodal volumes remained subdued in October thanks largely to high inventories at many retailers, lower port volumes and still-scarce warehouse capacity for many rail intermodal customers.”
Domestic and international container volumes inch higher in Q3
Although domestic container volumes rose 1.5% and international containers inched 0.1% higher year over year, total intermodal volumes slipped 1% amid a 27.7% decline in intermodal trailer traffic, the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) recently said.
The seven highest-density trade corridors in North America showed mixed results in the quarter, IANA said. While the Trans-Canada corridor and Midwest-Southwest corridor were up by 6.1% and 1.7%, respectively, the Midwest-Northwest corridor fell by 14.7%, and the South Central-Southwest and the Southeast-Southwest both slipped 13.9%. Also declining year over year were the Intra-Southeast, which fell 8.5%, and the Northeast-Midwest, which slipped 0.5%.
These seven corridors collectively handle more than 60% of total volume, according to IANA.
“The positive numbers for domestic and international containers are an indication of increasing network fluidity and reduction in congestion,” said IANA President and CEO Joni Casey in a release. “Additional gains are anticipated in the fourth quarter which could negate some of the losses experienced during the first half of the year.”