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 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.

"We don't make that trade-off. What we look at is how do we move the system to keep it very fluid. Secondly, we have commitments to ourselves to move a certain amount of grain per week, so we don't look at the profitability of grain versus other business. Crude is often viewed as being a problem for us moving grain."

He says, crude oil is only one per cent of CN Rail's overall volume, so it's not a large portion of their business.

In the immediate term, Finn says, the company will hire 1000 employees.

"We're going to hire probably another 800 employees between now and the end of June, so that will help us long term. Secondly, when it comes to locomotives they will be coming on, so we will make sure those are kept in a position to serve our customers, and we will invest $250 million more capital in the Winnipeg to Edmonton corridor to make sure we have for example, a double track coming into the yard in Edmonton."

He says CN Rail will make sure they have excess locomotives for the next grain season, and also more employees available to help with more difficult winters or a large grain crop.

Finn says grain car order fulfillment is currently around 70 per cent.

More Ag News

Rail transportation a hot topic in Ottawa

Last week was the first ever National Grain Week hosted by Grain Growers of Canada. Members of the organization from across the country met in Ottawa to interact with M.P.'s and Ministers April 17 to…

FCC report shows farmland values continue to rise

In Saskatchewan, average farmland values jumped 10.2 per cent in 2017 after a 7.2% per cent increase in 2016. This according to Farm Credit Canada's (FCC) 2017 Farmland Values Report. FCC's Chief…

Southwest has an increased risk of herbicide carryover

Farmers are just about ready to get this year’s crop in the ground, but they need to be aware of an increased risk of herbicide carryover this season. Daphne Cruise, Cropping Management Specialist…

Canadian Grain Commission to reassign five more wheat varieties in 2021

The Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) has announced that five varieties of Canada Western Red Spring wheat will be reassigned to the Canada Northern Hard Red wheat class. Scientific trials showed that…

Producers should be patient and wait until the right time to graze cattle

The first sight of green grass this spring may tempt producers to put their cattle out early, but a regional forage specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture says they should still be patient.…

AAFC researching benefits of mechanical weed control

Mechanical weed control is gaining in popularity amongst Prairie farmers. The idea is to use a physical implement rather than herbicide to control weeds. Breanne Tidemann is a research scientist with…

Abundance in red meat supplies putting pressure on cattle markets

The cattle markets have been under pressure recently. That according to Brian Perillat, manager and senior analyst with CanFax. He notes the struggles in the hog markets, are also impacting the beef…

Canadian Federation of Agriculture President weighs in on trade issues

There's been a number of recent developments on the agricultural trade front, with talk lately that U.S. President Trump is exploring the notion of rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with hopes…

Handling stress this spring

An Agricultural Safety and Health Specialist says, just like farmers maintain their equipment, they also need to prep themselves for the busy season ahead. Glen Blahey with the Canadian Agricultural…

Update on CN Rail's grain movement progress

CN Rail says they delivered 6,038-grain cars across Western Canada last week, exceeding their weekly target of 5,000-grain cars. They say they've delivered over 5,500-grain cars for six consecutive…

DiscoverEstevan.com is Estevan's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

Kids Create! Art Classes

08 March 2018 6:30 pm - 31 May 2018 8:00 pm

Art Room Estevan Leisure Center, Estevan





Meditation & More

25 April 2018 6:00 pm

Estevan Public Library, Estevan





Baby Time

26 April 2018 10:00 am

Estevan Public Library, Estevan





DIY Sunblock

26 April 2018 2:00 pm

Estevan Public Library, Estevan





Tween Chat and Chew

26 April 2018 4:00 pm

Estevan Public Library, Estevan





Mini Button Trees

27 April 2018 2:00 pm

Estevan Public Library, Estevan





17th Annual Country Classic Craft Show

28 April 2018 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Fast Centennial Arena in Carnduff Saskatchewan





Login