CP prepares to move large Canadian grain crop

by Eric Schroeder
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Canadian Pacific train
To deal with the large crop, CP said it has called on all supply chain partners to work collaboratively to continue moving record amounts of grain.
 
CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA — Canadian Pacific, a transcontinental railway in Canada and the United States with direct links to eight major ports, said it is “well-positioned and ready to move” this year’s western Canadian grain crop. The crop is forecast to be significantly bigger than the five-year average, according to CP.

 

To deal with the large crop, CP said it has called on all supply chain partners to work collaboratively to continue moving record amounts of grain. A similar strategy paid off during the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 crop-years, CP said.   

Candian Pacific E. Hunter Harrison CEO
E. Hunter Harrison, chief executive officer of CP.

“To ensure success during this crop-year, the broader supply chain must work together to collectively harness our energy so that the entire Canadian economy can reap the maximum benefit,” E. Hunter Harrison, chief executive officer of CP, said on Aug. 17. “We have been preparing for this crop year for months and we are ready.”

CP said the rail supply chain has returned to normal since the extraordinary crop and winter of 2013-14, and the company has continued to move record amounts of grain. As a result, the supply chain now is faced with excess capacity, including thousands of rail cars in storage ready to move the latest crop, CP said.

To move grain more efficiently, CP said it has made significant investments in its infrastructure. The company has invested private sector capital into capacity-building improvements to meet the expanding needs of its customers, and recent supply chain partner investments have been encouraging, especially in grain country elevator capacity and port capacity.

Major investments undertaken by CP include expanding centralized train control, constructing new and extended sidings, and terminal improvements. The company said it has constructed 22 new and extended sidings on its North Line between Edmonton and Winnipeg, four new extended sidings on the Western corridor through British Columbia, and nine new sidings through the U.S. Upper Plains states to Chicago.

As for its supply chain partners, CP investment activity has been strong as well, including the addition of a new transfer terminal in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, construction of numerous new in-country grain terminals — some with high-throughput loop tracks, and investment in a number of port terminal facilities to add port storage and equipment.

“These investments in all of the interconnected elements of the supply chain are critical to a strong, efficient and reliable system that has the capacity to move Canada’s grain crop each year,” CP said. “In order for the system to move record volumes of grain, it is essential that port terminals such as Vancouver operate on a 24/7 basis, remain fluid and that the seaway, especially the Port of Thunder Bay, be utilized to take pressure off Vancouver.”

Grain is CP’s largest line of business, and grain movement for the 2015-16 crop year was flat relative to 2014-15, 4.7% higher than its three-year average and 11.6% above the five-year average, CP said.

CP said it continues to develop and innovate its Dedicated Train Program (DTP), which provides customers with greater clarity and control of car supply to manage their supply chain. The company said it has received positive feedback on the DTP, which has allowed customers to have a clear and guaranteed amount of rail capacity.

“With innovative programs, a better-than-ever network, and a commitment to be the best we look forward to meeting the needs of our customers — we hope the rest of the supply chain is ready to do the same,” Harrison said. 

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