According to the federal government’s Hopper Car Fleet Annual Report for 2019, the number of federal hoppers in service dropped to 7,193 cars by Jan. 1, 2020, down from 7,749 cars a year earlier. | File photo

Federal grain car fleet gets smaller

The number of grain cars in Canada’s aging federal hopper car fleet continues to shrink as more cars are removed from service due to age, damage and rising maintenance costs. According to the federal government’s Hopper Car Fleet Annual Report for 2019, the number of federal hoppers in service dropped to 7,193 cars by Jan. […] Read more

It is unclear how Canadian Pacific Railway’s successful appeal of how the Canadian Transportation Agency determined its Volume Related Composite Price Index for 2020-21 might impact its maximum revenue entitlements for this year. | File photo

Judge cites fairness in ruling on revenue cap

Appeals court says CTA didn’t inform CP of the changes it made to how maximum revenue entitlements are calculated

A recent ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal has determined that the Canadian Transportation Agency did not act fairly when it considered factors that will influence Canadian Pacific Railway’s Volume Related Composite Price Index (VRCPI) for the 2020-21 crop year. The VRCPI is part of complex formula used to determine maximum revenue entitlements (MREs), […] Read more

The recent budget allocated $530,000 for the province's 13 short lines. | File photo

Short-line grant returns in Sask.

Saskatchewan has reinstated its grant program for short-line railways, although at a lesser amount. The recent budget allocated $530,000 for the province’s 13 short lines. That compares to $900,000 available in the program before it was cancelled in 2017. The short lines used the money, which was cost-shared, on maintenance and track infrastructure upgrades. “It’s […] Read more


Grain loading operations at the port were expected to increase quickly. | Port of Thunder Bay photo

Thunder Bay starts shipping

The 2021 shipping season is underway at the Port of Thunder Bay, Ont. Tug Sharon M1 and Barge Huron Spirit arrived at the Port of Thunder Bay March 26, signaling the start of the new navigation season. The tug and barge are owned and operated by McKeil Marine of Burlington, Ont. The barge carried a […] Read more

Grain loading operations at the port were expected to increase quickly. | Port of Thunder Bay photo

Thunder Bay kicks off new shipping season

The 2021 shipping season is underway at the Port of Thunder Bay, Ont. Tug Sharon M1 and Barge Huron Spirit arrived at the Port of Thunder Bay March 26, signaling the start of the new navigation season. The tug and barge are owned and operated by McKeil Marine of Burlington, Ont. The barge carried a […] Read more


Inventory levels at prairie grain terminals are tight because farmers continued to deliver last month while railways fell behind in deliveries.  | File photo

Nasty February magnifies supply chain issues

One consequence is an imbalance between grain stocks in country elevators and stocks at west coast export terminals

Frigid temperatures in February have thrown a speedbump in front of what has otherwise been an exceptional year for bulk grain movement. Canada’s bulk supply chain is still feeling the effects of a two- to three-week cold snap in February that slowed rail traffic, disrupted export sales programs and pushed grain inventories in the country […] Read more

Bill Gates controls a 16.36 percent stake in Canadian National Railway through Cascade Investment LLC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust.  |  File photo

Bill Gates owns largest ownership stake at CN

The founder of Microsoft is also the largest farmland owner in the United States and has invested heavily in plant protein

The fourth richest man in the world has quietly become by far the biggest shareholder in Canada’s largest railway. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has amassed a sizeable ownership stake in Canadian National Railway Co. Most of those shares were acquired through Cascade Investment LLC, an investment firm solely owned by Gates. Cascade owns 101,400,770 shares, […] Read more

Grain volumes at the Port of Thunder Bay last exceeded nine million tonnes in a single shipping season in 1997. | Port of Thunder Bay photo

Grain drives Thunder Bay’s successful year

Officials with the Port of Thunder Bay say the 2020 shipping season was the port’s most successful in more than two decades. The northern Ontario port moved nearly 10.2 million tonnes of cargo in 2020, up from 9.3 million tonnes in 2019. Higher grain volumes were a key driver behind the port’s improved cargo volumes. […] Read more


Omar Alghabra is a newcomer to cabinet, although he served as parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade diversification. While much of his focus will be on the airline industry, which is under pressure from COVID-19 restrictions and fewer travelers, he will also be responsible for grain transportation. | File photo

Cabinet shuffle produces new transport minister

A small cabinet shuffle in Ottawa has resulted in changes in three portfolios, including transport. Omar Alghabra is a newcomer to cabinet, although he served as parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade diversification. First elected in 2006, he represents Mississauga Centre. While much of his focus will be on the airline industry, which […] Read more

Mark Hemmes, the president of the federally appointed grain handling monitor Quorum Corp.
, said 2020 was a great year for Canada’s export grain industry, with pandemic-caused slumps in other commodity exports leaving railways and ports free to focus on shipping western Canadian crops. | G3 photo

Grain handling system sees major overhaul

Every element of the system has radically evolved since the mid-1990s, from trucks to elevators to trains to ports


In almost every way, the Canadian grain handling and exporting system is a quantum leap forward from where it was a quarter of a century ago. “There’s been more change in the last 25 years than, I think, the previous 50,” said Mark Hemmes, the president of the federally appointed grain handling monitor Quorum Corp. […] Read more