Maple Leaf Motoring is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of Canadian transportation. This week: how the CN strike played out on SONAR; transport continues to slump in GDP data; and Bison parties down in Winnipeg.
The end of the Canadian National (NYSE: CNI) strike couldn’t have come soon enough for Canada.
Further disruption to the flow of goods – especially canola and wheat exports — could have been devastating to an economy whose growth is already slowing. But the eight-day disruption, which ended on Nov. 26, also showed how the freight market adjusted.
The FreightWaves SONAR platform shows a fascinating story of trucking volumes slowly rising in tandem with the drop of outbound rail activity.
After the strike was announced on Nov. 16, the Canadian Outbound Tender Volume Index crept upward as outbound loaded rail cars dropped, suggesting that trucks picked up some of the slack.
When the strike ended on Nov. 26, the index surged again, likely a sign of intermodal operations moving again. In Toronto, where the disruption was especially bad at CN’s terminal, the Outbound Tender Volume Index jumped by 6.19% after the strike ended.
While some carriers have actually gotten a nice bump from the strike and its end, a proactive disruption probably would have hurt everyone.
Transport continues to fall in GDP numbers
As supply chains recover from the CN, the latest release of government GDP data shows continuing softening of the transport sector.
Canada’s C$87 billion transportation and warehousing industry fell by 0.9 percent in Statistics Canada’s monthly GDP figures, which measure economic output of individual sectors. It marked four consecutive months of declines.
Brian Depratto, a senior economist at TD Bank, noted that the temporary shutdown of a mine was a major contributor, driving down rail activity. “That said, the story for most of the major categories (freight-related) does indeed look fairly weak of late,” Depratto said in an email to FreightWaves.
Trucking proved more stable – basically flat in September. Overall, the sector was down about 2% from a year earlier.
Here’s hoping we get a stronger finish to the year.
Bison rocks the party in Winnipeg
Even in these uncertain times in freight, Bison Transport threw what was clearly an awesome party in Winnipeg, bringing trucks into a hotel ballroom.
The carrier’s annual awards dinner brought 750 members of the Bison family together. They recognized some truly remarkable drivers, including one with 3.5 million safe miles. It sounds even more impressive as 5.6 million kilometers.
Naturally, poutine was on the menu. As the evening progressed, there was even some live-streamed team-dancing.
Well done, Bison.