Canadian Pacific railway announced on Monday that it moved 25.8 million tonnes of Western Canadian grain and grain products, soybeans and other non-regulated principal field crops during the 2017-2018 crop year, up one per cent over the 2016-2017 crop-year and one per cent above its three-year average.
It also said that September 2017 was CP’s biggest-ever month for moving Canadian grain.
“Our agricultural shippers have needs that are unique within our book of business, and we believe an ongoing dialogue with those companies is essential to understanding and meeting their needs,” said Joan Hardy, CP’s vice-president of sales and marketing for grain and fertilizers.
“CP has been moving grain for over a century, and today more than ever, we’re focused on driving the future of grain transportation for the benefit of the entire supply chain.”
The company said its current estimate of the Western Canadian crop size, based on Statistics Canada data, is 70.8 million tonnes. When adding potential carry-in into the 2018/19 crop year production, the total crop to move is estimated to be 83.4 million tonnes, five per cent larger than the previous five-year average, explained CP.
“At the beginning of each crop year, there is limited visibility on the true size of the upcoming crop, which is truly a moving target. For example, the 2017-18 crop was originally forecasted at approximately 65 million tonnes, but was actually closer to 71 million tonnes – a variation of nearly 10 per cent,” it said.
“Based on current forecasts, CP’s operating team plans to consistently spot 5,500 hopper cars for Canadian grain weekly through the fall, until the closure of the Port of Thunder Bay on the St. Lawrence Seaway. When the seaway closes, CP plans to supply approximately 4,000 cars per week. CP sizes its operating plan carefully to match supply-chain capacity, and our plan assumes the supply chain will run at or near capacity throughout the season.”
The company said it continues to invest in resources to accommodate growing demand across its network. It currently has more than 700 employees in training and by the end of summer will have added more than 100 remanufactured locomotives to its fleet.
CP plans to spend more than $1.55 billion in capital investments in 2018, replacing depleted track assets and upgrading its network, it added.
Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.