CN: Transporting Record Levels of Canadian Grain

CN’s transportation of Western Canadian grain during the 2013-2014 crop year has surpassed its prior historical record and exceeds what it promised the Canadian government in mid-February, a full month before the government’s order-in-council took effect requiring railways to move specific volumes, the railroad said.

CN’s hopper car deliveries to Western Canadian grain elevators in May are expected to average 5,500 carloads per week — a full 50 per cent more than the eight-year historical average, and 38 percent more than the best-May ever.

“I wrote to Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in February when emotions started to boil in the midst of the brutal polar vortex that hobbled the operations of all railroads,” Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive of CN, said in a statement. “This was a month before Ottawa’s order-in-council was announced, and I promised the minister that CN would move 4,500 carloads of grain per week as soon as extreme cold weather abated, rising to 5,500 cars per week after the Port of Thunder Bay opened for business.

“We have done exactly what we promised, without the need for regulatory intervention. In fact, the strength of our grain transportation performance is unprecedented,” Mongeau added. “With our rapid rebound since March, and our solid performance last fall before winter took a toll on operations, we are on course to break all records for Canadian grain. Crop year-to-date, CN’s grain volumes are four per cent better than its previous best and 13 per cent above average‎ performance. And we would have been closer to 10 per cent above our prior record if it hadn’t been for grain companies failing to use available rail capacity last August and early September when it was becoming clear that Canadian grain growers would harvest a huge crop.”

Mongeau said CN is now aiming to move close to 6,000 hopper cars of grain weekly during this summer with its recently-introduced customer fleet integration plan, and the deployment in Canada of its temporarily surplus fleet of hopper cars used in U.S. service during the next three months.