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Record Grain Moves Continue for CN, CP

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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Canada’s two Class I railroads continue to set records for grain moves. For December 2020, both CN and Canadian Pacific (CP) reported nearly 3.00 million metric tonnes (MMT) shipped.

CN announced that for the tenth consecutive month, it set a new record by hauling more than 2.84 MMT of Canadian grain and processed grain products via carload. Year to date, total grain volume moved via carload for the 2020-21 crop year reached 14.5 MMT—exceeding the previous record pace volume set in 2018-19 by nearly 2 MMT, or 15%. Additionally, the railroad reported that it “remains on record pace” for containerized grain shipments from western Canada.

Rob ReillyCN Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

“We are proud of the great efforts of our team of CN railroaders and those of our supply chain partners who, once again went above and beyond to move Canadian grain to markets,” CN Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Reilly said. “2020 was a challenging year for everyone along the supply chain. Our dedicated employees and partners have demonstrated their resilience and courage in uncertain times. These record grain shipments are coming at the same time as CN is shipping very high volumes of many other commodities such as lumber, potash, propane and consumer goods. While we are proud of December’s results, we do not take them for granted and we will continue to work hard to safely move our customers’ goods.”

CP reported moving 2.84 MMT of Canadian grain and grain products in December, beating the previous record, set in 2019, by 13.6%.

For fourth-quarter 2020, the CP hauled 8.84 MMT, up 5.1% over the previous record, set in second-quarter 2020. And the 2020 calendar-year total of 31.32 MMT was more than any prior calendar year in the railroad’s history, it noted.

Joan Hardy, CP Vice President Sales and Marketing, Grain and Fertilizers

“Hard-won achievements like these require commitment and focus across the supply chain, but special credit must go to CP’s customers and their dedicated employees,” said Joan Hardy, CP Vice President Sales and Marketing, Grain and Fertilizers. “Their work to create a safe, efficient supply chain is an essential ingredient in our ability to deliver Canada’s crops to consumers at home and around the world.”

The two railroads’ grain movement pace is made possible, in part, by ongoing purchases of new high-capacity hopper cars from National Steel Car, Hamilton, Ontario. CN has reported making “significant investments” in track, locomotives and railcars in recent years, including the purchase of 1,500 new high-capacity grain hopper cars.

CP also continues to invest in its grain fleet, and has reported that additional hopper cars are coming into service each week. It has added more than 3,700 new hopper cars to its fleet via purchase or lease; they carry 15% more grain by volume and 10% more by weight vs. the older cars they are replacing.

Both Canadian Class I railroads marked a grain-move first in October: Exceeding 3 MMT.

Last month, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) ruled that CN and CP grain revenues for the 2019-20 crop year were above their respective Maximum Revenue Entitlements (MRE). Each railroad must pay the amount that exceeded MRE, plus a 5% penalty.

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