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4/8/2005



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Issues beyond railroad's control are affecting grain shippers' service, CN says



As a rebuttal to the Western Grain Elevator Association’s (WGEA) recent criticism of Canadian rail service, Canadian National Railway Co. issued a statement yesterday asserting the railroad has overcome winter-related service issues and is consistently moving grain cars.

Earlier this week, WGEA officials said CN and Canadian Pacific Railway have struggled to spot empty cars and provide timely delivery of loaded cars to Canadian ports and markets, and U.S. and Mexican destinations.

“The only issue on the horizon is a developing gap in predicted ship arrivals at ports, which is beginning to cause some concern about the potential for port terminal congestion,” said CN Executive Vice President of Operations Ed Harris. “CN will work with its customers to manage the situation as efficiently as possible, but there's nothing CN can do on its own to control ship ordering and arrivals."

In addition, many grain shippers don’t operate on weekends and holidays as CN does, which affects service, he said. Only two of the 11 grain terminals operated by WGEA members at three western Canadian ports operate seven days a week.

CN expects to hold its annual meeting with grain shippers in late summer to gauge their shipping forecasts for the coming year and devise rail-car allocation plans.


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