CN announced it moved a record 21.8 million metric tonnes of Western Canadian grain during the 2016-17 crop year. “Through innovation, collaboration and improved communication with our supply chain partners, CN moved more grain in a single crop year than ever before,” said Doug MacDonald, CN Vice-President, Bulk. “We did this by further developing our supply chain ingenuity with our partners to meet demand, resulting in improvements in the use of equipment and better than ever efficiencies in size of trains.”

In a year-end grain report, CN credited the introduction of 200-car grain trains to improve efficiency and turn equipment back to the Prairies faster, and the expanded use of distributed power and air repeater cars to extend train length and improve train braking during extreme weather winter months.

“We gave our customers what they were looking for by significantly expanding our commercial product offering,” said MacDonald. “CN expanded commercial agreements that guarantee car supply in advance to our customers both large and small. This commercially-driven innovation includes reciprocal penalties which drive accountability for both shippers and CN, and allows our customers to make market-based decisions.” Last crop year, customers secured approximately 70 per cent of CN’s car supply in advance under commercial agreements subject to car commitment guarantees.

Grain companies have continued to invest in the supply chain with the construction of nine new country elevators and another seven announced with completion dates in the next 18 months.

More rail capacity is needed in Vancouver to meet forecasted demand driven by new and ongoing investment in export grain terminals. Said MacDonald, “Vancouver is a vital trade-oriented Canadian gateway and should be a top investment priority for the government’s new national transportation corridor infrastructure fund.”