Concerned that West Coast grain terminals could hit capacity before
Great Lakes shipping lane from Port of Thunder Bay, Ont., opens this
MONTREAL, March 24, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) said
today it spotted 4,456 hopper cars for loading at country grain
elevators in Western Canada during the grain-crop Week 33 just ended.
This marked the third week in a row that CN has delivered more than
4,000 grain cars to Prairie elevators, averaging 4,366 cars per week,
or 23 per cent greater than CN's average winter car-spotting
Claude Mongeau, CN president and chief executive officer, said: "We
began ramping up our grain loadings as soon as we got a meaningful
break from this harsh winter's extreme cold temperatures. We are
pleased to see our network regaining fluidity. That enables our team of
dedicated railroaders to move more grain to address the backlog of
traffic resulting from the 100-year crop harvested last fall."
Mongeau said tackling the significant backlog will require solid
end-to-end collaboration among all grain supply chain stakeholders.
With rail volumes quickly increasing, however, CN is concerned that
grain elevator terminals on Canada's West Coast could soon hit
capacity, limiting total export volumes before the Great Lakes shipping
lane re-opens and a strong export grain program can start at the Port
of Thunder Bay, Ont.
"The Great Lakes have been frozen over by this winter's polar vortex to
a degree not seen in several decades," said Mongeau. "We need urgent
support from the Canadian Coast Guard to open navigation channels if we
are to meet the federal government's Order in Council requiring CN to
move 500,000 tonnes, or close to 5,500 cars of grain per week."
Mongeau added: "Railways are not the only ones facing a significant
challenge in moving this 100-year grain crop. It is becoming clear that
other supply chain participants - grain elevator companies, shipping
lines and ports -- are also straining to handle the harvest given a
full 50 per cent increase in the amount of grain to move to export
"As I have said before, blaming railways alone - or even worse,
threatening to punish them with re-regulation for an outsized crop and
winter conditions beyond their control - will not help to move any more
grain, now or over the longer term.
"Canada urgently needs to move away from unproductive finger-pointing.
We need to encourage supply chain collaboration and promote sound
commercial solutions to address the challenge of moving so much grain.
As a key part of the solution, CN is prepared to do its part if it is
welcomed as a core member of Canada's grain team."
CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) is a true backbone of the economy,
transporting approximately C$250 billion worth of goods annually for a
wide range of business sectors, ranging from resource products to
manufactured products to consumer goods, across a rail network spanning
Canada and mid-America. CN - Canadian National Railway Company, along
with its operating railway subsidiaries -- serves the cities and ports
of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and
Mobile, Ala., and the metropolitan areas of Toronto, Edmonton,
Winnipeg, Calgary, Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior,
Wis., and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North
America. For more information on CN, visit the company's website at www.cn.ca.
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