While extreme weather took its toll on the entire supply chain through much of February, CP Rail saw grain shipments increase by 16 percent week-over-week during week 31, and is experiencing daily improvements. CP also spotted nearly 50 percent more empties to the country in Week 31 compared to the week prior, a further sign of the incremental gains being made. CP’s velocity is also improving, with train speeds up approximately 10 per cent this past week versus mid-February.
“We are optimistic that with the weather turning in our favour, our singular focus on delivering safely for the supply chain, and the re-opening of the Port of Thunder Bay, that we are on the road to recovery,” said Keith Creel, CP President and CEO. “While our challenges have been significant, they are different than that of our competitor’s and the success of the supply chain depends on both railroads running at optimum levels.”
The supply chain works best when all of the players are functioning at a high level. When one railroad struggles, or a shipper is dealing with a labour outage, or a vessel captain refuses to load in Vancouver due to rain – the entire supply chain suffers, just as it does when temperatures drop below -25 Celsius for long periods of time. Extreme weather and line outages impact all commodity movements, not just grain.
Recently CP has experienced unprecedented cold (60 percent colder, 78 percent more days below -25 Celsius) and snow along with some significant outages. Additionally, CP is experiencing unprecedented and unexpected demand being driven from dual rail-served territories in the northern catchment areas of its network. Yet, in spite of significant weather challenges CP shipments are up 30 percent crop-year to date in this area.
“We have 550 new people, across all crafts, in various stages of the hiring process, 100 additional locomotives, which will start being integrated into the fleet this month and into the spring and summer, and we have earmarked between $1.35 billion and $1.5 billion in capital improvements this year that will further improve the flow of goods across North America,” Creel said.