CN taking steps to improve movement of Western Canadian grain

by Eric Schroeder
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Canadian National Railway
Photo courtesy of CN.
 
MONTREAL, CANADA — Jean-Jacques (JJ) Ruest, who was installed as interim president and chief executive officer of Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) earlier this week, on March 7 said CN will work to immediately improve the movement of Western Canadian grain. He said the company is dedicating additional people and equipment to clear backlogs across the CN grain network.

“We apologize for not meeting the expectations of our grain customers, nor our own high standards,” Ruest said. “The entire CN team has a sense of urgency and is fully focused on getting it right for farmers and our grain customers, regaining the confidence of Canadian businesses, and protecting Canada’s reputation as a stable trade partner in world markets.

“Moving the Canadian economy is in our DNA. We can and we will do much better, and that starts today — no excuses. CN has taken immediate steps to mobilize our proud and dedicated team of railroaders — the best in the business — in order to move more grain faster.”

Ruest said CN will take several steps to move grain faster, including offering incentives for key employees to delay retirement and postpone vacations, deploying qualified management to operate extra trains, adding train crews in Western Canada, leasing 130 locomotives to increase capacity in Western Canada, and investing more than C$250 million to build new track and yard capacity in Western Canada to boost supply chain fluidity and build in capacity resiliency for future grain crops.

Jean Jacques Ruest interim president and CEO of CN
Ruest, who has been with CN for 22 years, including the last eight as executive vice-president and CMO, replaced Luc Jobin as CEO earlier this week.
Photo courtesy of CN.
 
CN said it delivered 4,577 empty hopper cars last week, up 35% from the February average of 3,400. With all available hopper cars in service CN said it expects its weekly delivery total to approach 5,000 per week by the end of March.

“Canadians can count on CN to get this job done and to get it done safely, reliably and efficiently,” Ruest said. “We will provide regular weekly tracking on our grain movements and engage our grain customers. We also encourage Parliament to pass Bill C-49 swiftly.”

Ruest, who has been with CN for 22 years, including the last eight as executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, replaced Luc Jobin as CEO earlier this week. At the time of the announcement, Robert Pace, chairman of the CN board, said the company needed a leader “who will energize the team, realize CN’s corporate vision and take the company forward with the speed and determination CN is known for.”

An international search for a permanent CEO is under way.

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