Rail unloads at Vancouver, Thunder Bay ahead of last year’s pace

A freighter is loaded with grain from a terminal at Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet. (Maxvis/iStock/Getty Images)

MarketsFarm — The numbers of railcars unloaded at each of Canada’s major grain ports varies as to whether they’re ahead of last year’s pace, according to a report from Quorum Corp.

Terminal unloads at Vancouver jumped 22 per cent during week 47 of the 2019-20 crop year, compared to the same week in 2018-19. For the current week, there were 5,708 cars emptied as opposed to 4,680 a year ago.

Prince Rupert booked a decline of nine per cent, from 1,356 during Week 47 a year ago to 1,239 now. Overall for the West Coast, unloads were up 15 per cent year over year.

At Thunder Bay, on Lake Superior, unloads slipped seven per cent. There were 1,703 railcars unloaded in Week 47 this year compared to 1,823 for the same week in 2018/19.

On the year-to-date, Vancouver and Thunder Bay are presently ahead of their pace last year, but Prince Rupert is behind.

Edmonton-based Quorum, the federally appointed monitor for the Prairie grain handling system, reported 237,171 railcars have been unloaded at Vancouver at this point in the 2019-20 crop year, which makes for a three per cent increase. By week 47 last year, there were 230,250 unloads.

A year ago at Prince Rupert 58,110 cars had been emptied, but the port is at 52,856 this year, for a decline of nine per cent. Combined, the West Coast ports are slightly ahead of last year by one per cent.

There’s been a 15 per cent jump at Thunder Bay, with year-to-date currently at 80,558 railcars. In 2018/19, 70,048 cars had been unloaded.

In terms of volume, Vancouver has unloaded nearly 21.87 million tonnes of grain in 2019-20, which makes for a four per cent increase over the same point the previous year. Prince Rupert is down about 10 per cent, with 4.85 million tonnes of grain emptied from railcars. In 2018-19, Prince Rupert stood at 5.41 million tonnes. All told, the West Coast is ahead of last year by one per cent at 26.72 million tonnes.

Thunder Bay has seen approximately 7.52 million tonnes of grain unloaded to this point in the 2019-20 crop year. That’s 15 per cent more than 6.52 million tonnes in 2018-19.

— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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