Canadian National Railway on Aug. 22 announced that it moved a record 21.8 million tonnes of Western Canadian grain during the 2016-17 crop year.
“Through innovation, collaboration and improved communication with our supply chain partners, CN moved more grain in a single crop year than ever before,” said Doug MacDonald, vice-president of bulk at CN. “We did this by further developing our supply chain ingenuity with our partners to meet demand, resulting in improvements in the use of equipment and better-than-ever efficiencies in size of trains.”
In its year-end grain report, CN outlined other highlights from the crop year, including:
- Shipping 7% more tonnage than the prior three-year average
- Beating the one-year record set in 2014-15 by 2%
- Six new monthly shipping records between the peak months of September and March when grain prices are highest
- Introduction of 200-car trains to improve efficiency and turn equipment back to the Prairies faster
- Expanded use of distributed power and air repeater cars to extend train length and improve train braking during extreme winter weather conditions.
“We gave our customers what they were looking for by significantly expanding our commercial product offering,” MacDonald said. “CN expanded commercial agreements that guarantee car supply in advance to our customers both large and small. This commercially-driven innovation includes reciprocal penalties which drive accountability for both shippers and CN, and allows our customers to make market-based decisions.”
In the 2016-17 crop year, CN said its customers secured approximately 70% of CN’s car supply in advance under commercial agreements subject to car commitment guarantees.
CN said grain companies have continued to invest in the supply chain with construction of nine country elevators and another seven to be completed in the next 18 months.
More rail capacity is needed in Vancouver to meet forecasted demand driven by new and ongoing investment in export grain terminals, CN said.
“Vancouver is a vital trade-oriented Canadian gateway and should be a top investment priority for the government's new national transportation corridor infrastructure fund,” MacDonald said.