Sask. short line expands into grain buying

Great Western Railway Ltd. is Saskatchewan’s newest grain dealer.

The short-line railway confirmed last week that it has formed an affiliated company — Great Western Commodities Ltd. — which will buy grain from producers in southern Saskatchewan and sell to buyers in Canada, the United States and overseas.

GWR operates on more than 700 kilometres of railway in southwestern Saskatchewan.

It does not own any grain collection facilities but it s rail network services several elevators and producer car loading sites.

The company has access to more than 40 railway sidings suitable for collecting and loading grain.

GWR general manager Andrew Glastetter said GWC is registered and ready to do business, whether that be buying and selling grain directly or brokering deals with local producer groups.

GWC is in the process of becoming licensed and bonded by the Canadian Grain Commission, he added.

In addition to carrying freight on its own railway ine, GWR also provides service on more than 200 km of track owned by the Fife Lake Railway and Red Coat Road & Rail.

Fife Lake’s track runs south from Assiniboia to Rockglen and Coronach.

The Red Coat Road & Rail network runs east of Assiniboia to Ogema.

All of GWR grain trains connect to the Canadian Pacific Railway network at Assiniboia, Sask.

“We have been looking at this concept over the last couple years,” said GWR general manager Andrew Glastetter.

“With the recent addition of Jennifer Norheim as our manager of business development, and with our purchase over the last couple years of our own rail car hopper fleet, we are ready for this next step and are eager to move forward.”

Glastetter said in an email that GWR has found larger grain companies in Western Canada often are not in a position to deal directly with producers in some of the communities serviced by GWR.

However, larger grain companies are interested in buying blocks of grain cars that have already been loaded and assembled.

“In this case, we can co-ordinate and buy off of several producers along our line, arrange the rail car loading, and then sell the larger blocks as one unit,” Glastetter said.

“We also have some interest from overseas companies that are interested in working closely with us to access a reliable supply of high-quality durum from our area.”

Glastetter said GWC is perfectly positioned to handle the co-ordination, purchasing and gathering of the grain loads and can also manage deliveries to vessels at Canadian port locations.

“We will also be looking to supply some of the millers throughout North America,” he said.

Glastetter said GWC will focus on providing better service to southern Saskatchewan producers by offering more options to deliver grain locally and avoid longer truck hauls to main line elevator locations.

“We also have some grain companies that are already set up on our line and are valuable contributors to the success of our railway,” he added.

“Our intention is not to be a head-to-head competitor in these cases, but rather … to assist in enhancing and helping grow their business as well.

“If (that) means more grain moving along our railway, and (giving) farmers … more options to stay close to home, it is not important to us which grain company is benefitting from the sale.”

With the help of Intertek, GWR recently held three grain grading events at Frontier, Admiral, and Lafleche, Sask.

Producers’ samples were graded on site by Intertek, compliments of Great Western Commodities.

Glastetter said the event was an important first step that allowed GWC to meet producers in the service area and discuss delivery opportunities with local growers.

Contact brian.cross@producer.com

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