CN 'ahead of schedule' recovering from 8-day strike

In the week since the CN Railway strike ended, a top executive says they’re on the right track to get grain and other products moving as they once were.

CN’s executive vice-president and corporate services and chief legal officer, Sean Finn, says although the strike meant setbacks, they were still able to move close to 56 grain trains, which is crucial, according to Finn.

“We were successful in getting some of the crucial goods moving and keeping our trains moving, but also putting the railway into a slower mode in a way that when the strike was over, we could recover more quickly,” he says.

During the strike, Finn says they had roughly 160 trains staged along the main line that were kept there to be out of the way for throughput trains and for ease of accessibility once the strike would come to an end.

Logistics is an art not a science, according to Finn, and he’s thankful for the crew that has put together a solid recovery plan that is already ahead of schedule. (article continues below player)

“As we speak, within four days we’ll no longer have any trains staged on the main line due to the strike,” Finn says adding the report he got Monday morning is that they’re ahead of schedule when it comes to recovery from the eight-day strike.

“The challenge is to create and get back your fluidity on the network without creating additional congestion. For example, you don’t want to send out a whole bunch of trains into a yard, and then plug up the yard, so the idea is to get a mix of through put trains, and then to also keep room in the train yard’s to switch those cars.”

When it comes to what get’s moved, and when, he says they don’t choose favourites, rather they look at the trains and find out what can be moved in the most efficient fashion to maintain fluidity, and not eat up capacity that they can’t regain, but also to not create congestion on the lines.

“I don’t want to jinx it, all we need is a bad snow storm or a really cold spell in western Canada and it will add challenges again so keeping our fingers crossed, and we’re focussed on moving product on a daily basis.”

Finn expects CN will be back to normal operation within the next week to 10 days as long as the weather cooperates.

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