The railway is adding new hopper cars through 2023 and 2024
By Diego Flammini
Canadian National Railway (CN) has outlined how it will handle grain transport in 2022-23.
In 2018, then Transport Minister Marc Garneau introduced a policy mandating Class I railways, like CN and Canadian Pacific, must submit annual grain plans.
For 2022-23, CN is projecting it will move more grain than it did in 2021-22.
“Projected movement of grain and processed grain products via carload on CN over the course of the 2022-23 crop year is projected to be 24.5 to 27.0 MMT, with grain shipped via container in addition to these volumes,” the Grain Plan says.
In 2021-22, CN moved 18.2 MMT of grain and processed grain products.
The highest volume CN transported in recent years came in 2020-21, when the railway transported 29.8 MMT of grain.
To ensure the railway can handle the projected volume for 2022-23, it is investing in additional hopper cars.
CN is adding 500 new covered hopper cars in 2022, an additional 500 in early 2023 and another 750 throughout 2023 and 2024.
“The increased cubic capacity of the new hopper cars (5,431+ cubic feet) means more tonnage of lighter density commodities such as canola, barley and oats can be loaded in these cars before the car reaches its maximum permissible gross weight,” CN’s plan says.
CN has also acquired 57 high-horsepower locomotives.
Of those, 47 are expected to be in operation this fall with the remaining 10 coming online in the first quarter of 2023.
With these investments into cars and locomotives, CN believes it has the capacity to ship up to 7,800 cars per week and up to 744,000 metric tonnes of grain per week outside of the winter months.
During winter, CN can ship up to 6,250 cars and up to 595,000 metric tonnes of grain per week.
In addition to new equipment, CN is also increasing its staffing.
CN plans to increase its crew in Western Canada and hire over 500 new employees.