Service Update – All Modes
No service issues have been reported since update #59.
Air Canada has announced its cargo schedule update showing new routes and frequencies taking effect in late October and early November to a number of global destinations. The Air Canada schedule can be found at: https://www.aircanada.com/dk/en/aco/home/book/travel-news-and-updates/2020/covid-19.html
There continue to be widespread reports of high demand, especially on the Trans-Pacific routes. While shipping lines have brought on more ships, there are container shortages and carriers are preferring to return empty containers from the west coast to Asia rather than loading containers on the North American west coast with agricultural and forest products destined to Asia.
Media reports indicate that headhaul rates from Asia are running close to US$4,000 per FEU while backhaul rates are in the US$500 range. This is causing problems for North American shippers exporting by container to Asian destinations.
The increased North American demand is reported to be largely driven by e-commerce consumer purchases, and early restocking by retailers to counter any wide-spread shutdowns in China if Corona virus rates spike in the coming months.
The October 28 American Shipper is reporting on the continued “rolling” of shipments to later departures than originally scheduled and provides more details on the increases in demand, capacity and container shortages at some loading locations. TheAmerican Shipper article can be found at
On volume, for week 43, carloads were down 2.1% on the week compared to last year and intermodal was up 12.4% for the same comparison periods.
FMA and other members of the Coalition of Rail Shippers (CRS) reported wide-spread service delays on CN over most of the second quarter and into the third quarter, primarily related to bulk commodity carload traffic, but there continue to be reports of service improvements in September and October. CN has announced that October was an all-time record volume of grain carried in a single month.
No recent service issues on CP have been reported to FMA by shippers.
CP reports as follows for the week of October 26.
We remain in fall peak, and CP continues to experience record demand. CP is running under normal operating conditions across the property.
For container availability, CP reports:
We are tight for dry capacity in most of the network
Heater season has started and we are ready to accept heater orders
No issues on trucking service have been reported at this time. Discussion of driver shortages are starting to appear in various transportation publications. The Canadian Trucking Alliance is reporting on tightening capacity and significant rate increases in U.S. trucking. The CTA news item can be found at
Supply Chain Commentaries
AAR Canadian Rail Traffic Data – Week 43
North American rail volume for the first 43 weeks of 2020 was 27,749,722 carloads and intermodal units, down 9 percent compared with 2019.
Canadian railroads reported 80,384 carloads for the week, down 2.1 percent, and 79,792 intermodal units, up 12.4 percent compared with the same week in 2019. The significant growth in container traffic is a reflection of the same high demand for consumer goods as discussed under the ocean shipping item.
For the first 43 weeks of 2020, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 6,109,272 carloads, containers and trailers, down 6.4 percent.
The detailed statistics for week 43 can be found at the first red bar below.
The graph, accessed at the second red bar below, shows the trend of 2020 Canadian rail traffic in comparison to 2018 and 2019 volumes from week 1 to week 43. The third red bar below opens to a comparable graph for intermodal traffic that shows the significant growth in that category over recent weeks where it has been running ahead of 2019 and 2018 volumes for most of October.
FMA Government Relations
FMA has continuing communications with Transport Canada Surface Policy and Marine Policy officials and with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) on Supply Chain recovery efforts. FMA also maintains a dialogue with the the Canadian Transportation Agency, which is the rail and marine regulator.
Information and questions from members, covering all modes of transportation are encouraged and will be useful in our continuing communications with the government. All individual company information will be kept confidential and only aggregated information will be used in communications with government officials.
FMA Office Operations
FMA staff are primarily working from home. If you need to talk with us, please call me at 613-294-4569.
Updates are on the FMA Website
The FMA COVID-19 updates continue to be uploaded to the website and there is a link to them on the home page at www.fma-agf.ca .
The FMA updates focus only on the impacts of COVID-19 on supply chains.