Areas near the Rocky Mountains have already seen their first snow — an important reminder that winter preparation should be well underway not just on the farm, but also for the entire value chain.

To that end, Canada’s main railways have released their winter planning initiatives and investments for the 2020-2021 winter season, in accordance with the requirements of Canada’s Transportation Modernization Act.

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) has earmarked $1.6 billion towards its winter plan, with emphasis on the funds going towards improving safety performance, network resiliency, system velocity, and improvement of communications with customers. Amongst these investments are:

  • Air brake flow monitoring
  • Expanding the application of automated train brake effectiveness (cold wheel detection) technology
  • Expanding ground-level air temperature forecast system
  • Harnessing the power of predictive analytics to forecast rolling stock equipment failures before they happen
  • Implementing a high-speed camera train inspection system
  • In-house testing new air brake valve gasket materials
  • Modernized 201 locomotives
  • Training over 400 employees (currently in various stages of training system-wide)
  • Implementing additional communication tools, developed with customers, through CP Customer Station
  • Reinforcing CP’s Home Safe program

The Canadian National Railway (CN) will spend $2.9 billion for its 2020-21 winter plan, with a highlight on supporting the supply chain, safety, and recovery. The breakdown for each province is $445M to B.C., $305M to Alta., $105M to Sask., $105M to Man., $310M to Ontario, $235M to Quebec, $20M to N.B., and $10M to N.S. Amongst these investments are:

  • Double tracking key parts of CN’s mainline
  • Extending sidings
  • Increasing yard tracks
  • Building more infrastructure in both Port of Vancouver, and Port of Prince Rupert
  • Support its customers’ demands for more capacity
  • Match their investments at the waterfront and in the country
  • Aquire 1500 additional new generation, high-capacity grain hopper carps with delivery during the 2020-2021 crop year

J.J. Ruest, president and chief executive officer at CN, says that by properly planning for the impending winter — no matter its severity — the company is able to mitigate some issues that may have otherwise arose.

“We diligently prepare for winter by implementing specific measures to meet with its inevitable extreme conditions,” Ruest explains. “There is no doubt in my mind that our ability to perform in these challenging times is largely a result of the record high strategic capital investments we are making in our infrastructure and of the resourcefulness of our railroaders.”

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