Rail traffic across the country has slowed down, literally, after a speed limit on trains carrying dangerous goods was put in place through a ministerial order from Transport Minister Marc Garneau late last week.
While the impact is mainly for dangerous goods such as oil and petroleum products, it will have an impact on all goods and commodities that travel by rail, including grain, according to Wade Sobkowich with the Western Grain Elevators Association.
“Those grain cars will be slowed down, and also it’s the trains occupying the tracks,” Sobkowich explained. “If other trains are moving slower, what does that mean for the speed of the movement of unit trains of bulk grain?”
Sobkowich pointed out in addition to the slower traffic on the tracks, it will also impact the grain cars that are part of trains that also carry dangerous goods.
The Western Grain Elevators Association isn’t too concerned about how long it will take the grain to get from the primary elevator to the terminal, but they are concerned with when the train will be arriving at the elevator.
“If we know the train is cycling in 14 days, then we can organize to make sure the vessel is ready to load 14 days after the train leaves the elevator,” Sobkowich added.
There could be some complications, however.
If the increase in the time frames is marginal, Sobkowich doesn't think it will have too much of an impact, but if the delay keeps growing, that will be of concern.
“If you are cycling rail cars within 14 days, then you have a certain number of cycles you can do in a year; that’s how much capacity you have to move grain,” Sobkowich elaborated. “If you’re slowing down the train, and now they cycle in a longer period of time, that ends up translating into capacity lost.”
The speed limit of 40 kilometres an hour was put in place by the ministerial order in response to a fiery derailment of a train carrying oil near Guernsey, Saskatchewan. The limit is to be in effect for 30 days from when it was issued.Click here to see more...