The two big Canadian Class I railroads suffered a sharper decline in bulk carload traffic in 2009 than U.S.-based major lines, while their drop in intermodal matched the U.S. carriers’ performance.
The Association of American Railroads separately reports the numbers of U.S. lines from traffic levels of Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway, which operate not only across Canada but own major operations inside the United States.
CN and CP saw their combined carloads – both carriers, for volume in both countries -- fall 17.7 percent to 3,248,935 units in the 52 weeks ending Jan. 2. Major U.S. carriers in that time saw their carloads fall 16.1 percent to about 13.8 million.
The Canadian lines had a 14 percent drop in intermodal traffic to 2,115,517 units, of which 2,032,734 were containers and 82,783 were trailers. U.S. majors – five Class Is plus a few regional lines that report to AAR, saw intermodal decline 14.1 percent to nearly 9.9 million boxes.
CN owns former Illinois Central, Wisconsin Central and other sizable U.S. rail properties, while CP’s U.S. holdings include Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern in the upper Great Plains.
The single largest carload category for the Canadian carriers is chemicals, which fell 17.5 percent in 2009 despite gains in recent months in line with a recovery in factory demand for inputs.
Other large cargoes for them were grain loadings that were down just 2.8 percent for the year, and metallic ores with a 31.7 percent drop.
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