Although the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to disrupt the flow of the supply chain, Canadian trains boasted record volumes of grain shipped in April.
Canadian National (NYSE: CNI) moved 2.73 million metric tons (mmt) in April, beating the April record of 2.72 mmt from 2019. The train also moved 6.59 mmt in the first quarter of 2020, which according to the company is the second-best first-quarter seed movement ever existed .
Since the start of the 2019-2020 harvest year on 1 August, the Canadian National (CN) has moved 21.55 mmt, with 20.7 mmt coming from western Canada.
“Despite the difficult conditions, CN handled 51% of all Canadian railroad shipments in the first quarter, including 52% of market share in March,” explained James Cairns, CN’s senior vice president, rail-centric supply chain. “We are in very good condition and ready to send during the last months of the harvest year.”
Since August 1, CP has moved 21.4 mmt, 6% higher than the same point last year and 8% higher than the average of the previous three years, the company said. The reopening of Thunder Bay Harbor must allow “the delivery of strong grain for the rest of the 2019-2020 harvest year,” CP said.
“The CP family of professional railroads continued to provide for our customers and our economy during this very challenging COVID-19 period,” said Joan Hardy, CP vice president for wheat and fertilizer sales and marketing. “By working collaboratively with our customers from the field to the port, we have been able to find synergies and efficiencies to drive the grain supply chain going forward.”
The two railways have made significant investments in their western grain network in recent years, including an increase in track and new car cars.
The train, and CN in particular, are also confronted delivery challenges in February from protesters who blocked portions of their railroad network to support the First Nations group’s objections to the location of the proposed fracked gas pipeline in northern British Columbia. Wheat shippers say The blockade results in delays across the entire network and at the port which will take weeks to complete.
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