CN responds to gov’t with grain movement plan

Canadian National Railway has released its grain transportation response to federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay.

The ministers had asked the two major railways to submit their plans to get grain moving by March 15.

According to a March 14 update posted on CN’s website, as per the ministers’ request, the company outlined some immediate and longer-term steps to improve movement.

Immediate actions include temporarily restricting flow between Edmonton and Winnipeg by controlling the flow of empty rail cars into Western Canada, managing frack sand orders to avoid further congestion and returning empty propane cars from short-term staging locations in a controlled way, the update said.

A full-time situation room at the company’s network operations centre in Edmonton will prioritize rail car movement and review critical customer issues. Earlier promises to deploy qualified staff to run trains and incentives to delay retirement or postpone vacations are also in play.

In the medium and longer-term, CN said it will take delivery of the first 60 new locomotives from an order of 200 during the second half of this year.

It will invest more than $250 million this spring and summer to build new track and yard capacity. Between Edmonton and Winnipeg, five stretches of double track will be built along the main line in eastern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

In Alberta, a long section of double track west of Edmonton to the West Coast, along with new yard capacity near Edmonton, is promised. Yard capacity in Manitoba will also be improved.

CN also said more passing sidings will be added in northern British Columbia between Prince Rupert and Jasper. A siding north of Kamloops will also be extended.


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