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CP says grain movement is turning around

Train speed and overall throughput are both increasing, which is good for grain transport and other commodities, said CEO Keith Creel. | CP photo

Canadian Pacific Railway’s letter to federal ministers says it is re-setting its network as it rebounds from February weather challenges.

Train speed and overall throughput are both increasing, which is good for grain transport and other commodities, said the letter from CEO Keith Creel.

The company has hauled more grain this crop year even with difficult operating conditions, he said.

The company’s response to transport minister Marc Garneau and agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay, required by March 15, said its crop-year-to-date shipments to March 10 are up three percent, or about 450,000 tonnes.

It said that difficult weather conditions were compounded by “significant and largely unexpected demand, especially in Western Canada.”

The crop was originally forecast at about 65 million tonnes but will actually be about 71 million, the railway said. Much of that additional production is in the northern catchment area of the Prairies.

“Notwithstanding the challenging operating environment, our shipments have increased by 30 percent crop-year-to-date in this area,” Creel’s letter said.

Plus, the company faces demand from potash and energy.

CP’s week 32 grain shipments increased by 22 percent over week 31.

“We placed 10 percent more empty rail cars in the country in Week 32 compared to the week prior, a further sign of incremental gains achieved,” Creel added.

The railway expects further gains once the port of Thunder Bay re-opens.

CP is adding crews and locomotives: 700 new employees and 100 additional locomotives will be integrated through the summer.

But the company warns that heavy snowfall melting in the mountain corridors of B.C. and Alberta could affect operations. Avalanche monitoring and spring thaw surveillance are underway.

The company’s capital plan includes spending of $1.35 to $1.5 billion to strengthen capacity and fluidity of the supply chain.

“CP and other supply chain partners have submitted applications to the National Trade Corridors Fund that your government has established,” Creel said. “I strongly encourage you to prioritize projects for federal investment that will deliver capacity gains for the supply chain.”


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