CN Rail reports best month ever for grain movement

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CN Rail says October was its best single month ever for grain movement in Western Canada.

The company says it moved over 3.23 million metric tonnes from the Prairies, exceeding the previous record set in October 2020 by 50 thousand metric tonnes.

“Really from the end of September through the third week of October, we’ve had a very consistent grain program on CN, with grain shipment volumes well in excess of 700 thousand tonnes a week…,” David Przednowek, CN’s assistant vice-president for grain, tells RealAgriculture. “Overall, you come out at the end of October, and CN set a record best for total grain shipments in a single month, not just best October but best month ever at over 3.23 million metric tons. And that tells you that, all things considered, the supply chain up until very recently has been performing very well end-to-end.”

Weekly reporting by the Ag Transport Coalition (ATC) shows CN has been supplying between 86 and 93 per cent of the cars ordered by grain companies during weeks 10 through 12 of the grain shipping calendar (accounting for Oct. 2 through Oct. 23 — the latest available data). The grain shipper coalition’s weekly reports show CN’s rival CP Rail’s hopper car order fulfillment has declined from 85 to 69 per cent over the same period in October.

Przednowek notes there were some challenges in the last week of October.

“We’ve run into a couple of bumps along the road, specifically some terminal productivity issues on the West Coast coupled with the impact of heavy rain affecting terminal performance and not being able to load the vessel in the rain, which is causing things to stack up a little bit. And we’re working closely with customers to adjust the pipeline to account for that,” he says.

Listen to David Przednowek discuss grain movement this fall and the factors that led to CN’s record grain volume in October:

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