Weather smiles on early spring railway movement

A tumultuous and trying winter grain shipping season is wrapping up on a much higher note, thanks to decent weather, resolved blockades, and fully-opened tracks.

Sean Finn, executive vice-president of corporate services and chief legal officer for CN Rail, says that although the railway is taking extra precautions regarding COVID-19, the network is working well and moving a lot of grain.

“March was a good month for us,” Finn says, adding that good weather, healthy employees, and available track capacity combined with moving a record 2.65 million metric tonnes for March. The last record movement was in 2017, at 2.47 million metric tonnes.

Finn says that car spotting is pegged at 4,150 per week as a goal, and in March, the railway managed to average over 6,000 cars spotted per week. He says that about 40 ships are waiting to load at the port — down from 65 — which is in line with the seasonal average.

Grain deliveries typically slow into May as seeding kicks off in Western Canada. The year-over-year crop moved sits at about 17.8 million tonnes, just shy of the 18 million tonnes moved by the end of March in 2019.

Finn says they anticipate deliveries should be fully back to normal movement by the end of April.

Listen on for the full discussion with Sean Finn, here: 

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