On Tuesday, CN Rail's Executive Vice President was in Edmonton talking with farm groups.
Sean Finn says he wanted to come to Alberta to apologize for the grain backlog in person.
"In March we did apologize to our grain customers, farmers in Western Canada, and a lot of our customers for not having provided a service at the level they expect and are used to having from CN. We let them down."
Finn says one of the main questions he was asked at the meeting was, 'how did this grain backlog happen?'.
"We had gone through prior to 2017, we had six quarters or 18 months of a reduction in volumes, and we entered 2017 with a forecast of a volume increase of about 3 per cent. Very quickly within the first couple months of 2017, we realized we had an increase in volumes of certain commodities between 11 and 20 per cent. By the time we got to the point we realized it was sustainable, it was September, and we said we're short crews, we're short locomotives, and there are pinch points in our network that impacts capacity."
He says to train a conductor takes eight months, and new locomotives take about about a year to build.
Finn says they leased 130 high power locomotives to move grain last fall, by they still fell behind in the winter months.
Some farmers have made the comment that grain backlogs always seem to come when there's something more profitable to ship, but Finn says that's not the case.
Source : Steinbachonline