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Canadian Pacific smashes grain volume records in 2018-2019

Image courtesy of Canadian Pacific

Canadian Pacific (NYSE: CP) reached an all-time record in shipping grain volumes in the 2018-2019 crop year, the company said on August 1.

The railway hauled 26.8 million metric tonnes of grain and grain products in the crop year that ran from August 1, 2018 to July 31, 2019. That total volume was 2.8 percent higher than the last record hit during the 2017-2018 season and 3.9 percent higher than CP’s three-year average. 

Canadian Pacific also reached an all-time monthly record in April when it moved 2.6 million metric tonnes. And between September and November 2018, CP moved 15,000+ carloads of western Canadian grain and grain products to the Port of Vancouver.

“CP’s record performance and focus on innovation supports the entire grain supply chain in moving increased volume,” said Joan Hardy, CP vice president of sales and marketing for grain and fertilizers. “This past crop year, the 13,000-strong CP family was there to ensure even more Canadian grain and grain products moved to port for export, and to other destinations for processing. 

Both CP and its rival Canadian National (NYSE: CNI) hauled record grain volumes for the 2018-2019 season, in part because of capital investments that the rail companies made to their infrastructure in western Canada. Also, when the Canadian government passed Bill C-49 in May 2018, the bill called for measures that would incentivize CP and CNI to make more capital investments to their western grain networks.

CP’s investments include plans to spend C$500 million to invest in 5,900 new hopper cars. The company says it now has nearly 1,500 new high-capacity hopper cars in its fleet, with plans to have more than 1,900 such cars in service by year’s end. These cars are able to load up to 10 percent more grain, CP aid.

CP also developed an 8,500-foot high efficiency product train model last summer. Seven CP-served 8,500-foot loop track facilities currently use this model, and an additional five are being constructed, CP said.

“We continue to make record investments in our network, hire more running trades employees to operate trains, and modernize locomotives to meet the needs of our customers and the North American economy,” Hardy said. 

CP said is watching crop forecasts for the 2019-2020 season, and it submitted its grain service outlook to Minister of Transport Marc Garneau.

Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.