CN moved record Western grain volumes during 2016-2017 crop year

CN announced it moved a record 21.8 million metric tonnes of Western Canadian grain during the 2016-17 crop year. “Through innovation, collaboration and improved communication with our supply chain partners, CN moved more grain in a single crop year than ever before,” said Doug MacDonald, CN Vice-President, Bulk. “We did this by further developing our supply chain ingenuity with our partners to meet demand, resulting in improvements in the use of equipment and better than ever efficiencies in size of trains.”

In a year-end grain report, CN credited the introduction of 200-car grain trains to improve efficiency and turn equipment back to the Prairies faster, and the expanded use of distributed power and air repeater cars to extend train length and improve train braking during extreme weather winter months.

“We gave our customers what they were looking for by significantly expanding our commercial product offering,” said MacDonald. “CN expanded commercial agreements that guarantee car supply in advance to our customers both large and small. This commercially-driven innovation includes reciprocal penalties which drive accountability for both shippers and CN, and allows our customers to make market-based decisions.” Last crop year, customers secured approximately 70 per cent of CN’s car supply in advance under commercial agreements subject to car commitment guarantees.

Grain companies have continued to invest in the supply chain with the construction of nine new country elevators and another seven announced with completion dates in the next 18 months.

More rail capacity is needed in Vancouver to meet forecasted demand driven by new and ongoing investment in export grain terminals. Said MacDonald, “Vancouver is a vital trade-oriented Canadian gateway and should be a top investment priority for the government’s new national transportation corridor infrastructure fund.”

First freight train from UK sets off as China-Europe rail services soar

By Alex Lennane

The first train from the UK to China left London Gateway on April 10, heading for Yiwu, where it arrived on 27 April, with 30 containers carrying whisky, soft drinks, vitamins and pharmaceuticals. Rail services between Europe and China have seen a surge in volumes as services grow and shippers take advantage of the cost and speed benefits available.

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CN and CP announce first quarter 2017 results

While both of Canada’s major railways felt the effects of a weak economy, CN produced another quarter of stellar results, while CP produced more modest results.

During the quarter, CN’s revenues increased by just over 8 per cent to $3.3 billion. However, operating expenses rose by almost 9 per cent. Net income before income taxes rose from $1,099 million during the first quarter of 2016 to $1,183 million during Q1 of 2017. Cash flow from operations increased to $1,265 million during the period, up from $1,065 million during the same period of 2016. “Free” cash flow, the amount remaining from operating cash flow after subtracting net investments made during the quarter and dividends paid to investors, increased to $547 million from $303 million during the first quarter of 2016.

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CN, Duluth Cargo Connect to establish first intermodal container terminal in Twin Ports

CN and Duluth Cargo Connect announced a new alliance establishing the first rail-served intermodal container ramp in the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minn. and Superior, Wisconsin. Duluth Cargo Connect, a working partnership of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and Lake Superior Warehousing, will operate the rail-served facility at the port’s Clure Public Marine Terminal.

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New China-Europe rail services on track to steal air and sea freight volumes

By Alex Lennane

2017 will be the year that China-Europe rail services shift supply chain patterns. As the first train from China rolled into London on January 17, having left on New Year’s day, the CEO of Kazakhstan’s dry inland port, Khorgos Gateway, told The Loadstar the services would eat into sea and air freight volumes. “We now have two trains per day, with about 80 TEUs and 41 containers per train,” explained Karl Gheysen. “It runs three times a week to Duisburg, but we also have services to the Netherlands, Madrid, Iran and now the UK. “The capacity is 540,000 TEUs a year, but we could make it a million.”

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Truckers bite into the rail operators’ share of North American intermodal traffic

By Alexander Whiteman

Intermodal traffic on North America’s railways lost out to cheaper trucking alternatives last year. More haulage capacity opened up, pushing full-year revenues at intermodal operators down across the board. Of the six major North American railroads, only Norfolk Southern (NS) and Canadian National (CN) reported volume growth. Warren Buffet-owned BNSF does not report its numbers.

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CN and CP announce Q4 and 2016 year-end results

Both of Canada’s major railways announced results for the period ended December 31, and for the second year in a row, the effects of a sputtering economy were well in evidence.

Although fourth quarter revenues were up 1.6 per cent, CN’s revenues for the year declined by 4.5 per cent to $12.03 billion. However, because of tight control over expenses, operating income for both the quarter and the year were up. In fact, operating expenses as a percentage of revenues declined steeply from 58.2 per cent to 55.8 per cent during the year, a new record, as far as we can tell. Net income for the year rose 2.9 per cent to $3.64 billion. Cash flow from operations increased by 1.2 per cent to $5.20 billion. “Free” cash flow, the amount remaining from operating cash flow after subtracting net investments made during the year and dividends paid to investors, declined slightly to $1.43 billion.

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