CN Sets ‘High-Water Mark’ for Gulf Export ProgramWritten by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
CN has set a new high-water mark for its direct rail program to the Gulf, exceeding the previous near-term high recorded in 2014, the Class I announced on Nov. 9.
“You need to go back to 2007/08 to see a direct rail program to the Gulf this strong on CN, and CN is positioned well to eclipse this level,” the railroad said. “These results demonstrate CN’s commitment to serving its U.S. agricultural customers, including through some challenging circumstances. CN is proud of the strong operational performance its team of railroaders have delivered throughout 2022 to achieve this milestone.”
According to the Class I, CN’s direct rail program to the Gulf was “strong to start 2022 given brisk export demand for corn and soybeans.” The conflict in Ukraine, CN adds, “resulted in significant shifts in commodity trade flows and caused a spike in demand.” Additionally, CN says it “pulled out the stops” to deliver for its customers, including managing through the effects of the COVID Omicron variant on its workforce.
Additionally, CN says it has also been preparing for a strong fall grain export program for months, which is “exactly what has materialized.” In August, the railroad presented to the National Grain Car Council and communicated its readiness for the upcoming harvest, demonstrating that it had the resources in place to deliver. “All that advanced planning and effort benefits farmers and CN grain customers,” the railroad said.
CN says its Southern Region Transportation team has supported strong operational results for the movement of grain and other commodities, an achievement that is due “in no small part to all the hard work put in by Bulk Operations, Engineering, Rail Traffic Control, Service Design, Sales & Marketing and many others – it is a team of teams approach that has been winning the day.”
“Railroading is a capital-intensive business, and CN has a strong track record of capital investment,” said CN, which adds that back in November 2020, the railroad “marked a significant engineering accomplishment” with the cutover to the re-constructed Bonnet Carré-McComb Spillway Bridge near New Orleans. According to the railroad, this bridge, which is more than two miles in length, provides a critical U.S. transportation corridor for freight and passenger service across the Bonnet Carré Spillway, and has also helped increase network capacity, moving traffic faster and more efficiently.
The size and scale of this project was significant, CN adds, with an army of the railroad’s engineering employees and contractor construction crews operating 24/7 to replace the historic timber bridge with an 11,712-foot pre-cast concrete bridge.
According to CN, the railroad’s total infrastructure investment in the U.S. over the past five years amounts to approximately $3.3 billion. Capital investments include replacing more than 50 miles of rail, installing 500,000 new ties, and rebuilding more than 180 road crossing surfaces, along with maintenance work on bridges, culverts, signal systems and other track infrastructure.
“CN’s grain franchise has a bright future in the U.S., and we are proud to serve agricultural-related customers across CN’s U.S. network,” the Class I said.