No big problems with grain transportation so far

It’s so far, so good with grain shipments to the three major Canadian ports according, to a spokesperson with Quorum Corporation, which compiles weekly performance updates on Canada’s grain handling sector.

The spokesperson said there not have been any big problems recently, only a few sporadic instances in rail shipments. He said there has been an improvement of service since the beginning of the 2018-2019 crop year as the railways added more capacity. He said there are some car supply problems, but noted not all of these can be avoided.

The spokesperson said overall volumes of grain shipments were up 3.9 percent at the end of October. In terms of ports, he said Prince Rupert is up 18 percent and Vancouver is up by 4.4 percent, but Thunder Bay is down by 4.9 percent.

With talk of moving crude oil out of Alberta by rail to reduce the province’s glut, the spokesperson couldn’t say if that could have any impact on grain shipments. He said grain, as with oil, must share capacity with other commodities such as coal, sulfur and potash as well as intermodal traffic.

According to data in by Quorum’s Weekly Performance Update, for week 15 of the 2018-2019 crop year, there were 8,750 cars unloaded at the three ports, 5,182 belonging to Canadian National and 3,568 belonging to Canadian Pacific. The year-to-date total stands at 117,359 cars.

So far this grain year more than six million tonnes of grain has been shipped to Vancouver and almost 1.59 million tonnes to Prince Rupert. Thunder Bay has handled approximately 2.42 million tonnes.

Quorum’s report noted there were 28 vessels at Vancouver, with eight berthed and the others at anchor. There were five vessels at Prince Rupert.

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