22 New Grain Facilities on CN's Lines
JUL 12, 2019

Leading the Charge – The Evolution of Grain Handling in Western Canada

Most new generation grain elevators on the Prairies today are being built on CN lines – and the efficiency of CN’s grain elevator network is leaping forward

Grain elevator infrastructure in western Canada has come a long way from wood crib elevators and loading boxcars. There has been a flurry of activity in new elevator construction over the past five years, and CN is proud that customers have chosen to locate 21 of 30 on CN lines.

Besides brand new elevators, customers located on CN have been investing in existing facilities by increasing capacity to accommodate unit trains, as well as taking advantage of CN’s rate incentive structure to make rail operations more efficient. Well ahead of the curve, five years ago CN introduced a unique customer incentive called the Winter Ready Program to encourage investment in infrastructure that allows shippers to have a loaded unit train charged with air and ready to go. By the end of this year, over 60 of CN’s 70-plus unit train loaders will have taken advantage of this win-win Ready Train solution – saving up to 12 hours in cycle time in the coldest winter conditions.

New Canadian Grain Elevators On CN`s Lines Since 2015

Growth in Ready Train Origins in Western Canada

Last summer CN rolled out a new rate incentive structure building on the Winter Ready program. CN’s Loop / Tangent Track Incentive encourages shippers to invest in hook-and-haul infrastructure, saving time and creating capacity. Qualifying facilities are able to receive and release 100+ cars on a single track – not multiple ladder tracks that take longer to serve going in and out – and the facility must be equipped with a power switch that can be operated remotely by CN, making for safer, more efficient rail operations. The faster a train can clear the CN mainline, the more capacity freed up to move all the other traffic running on the line - including more grain. CN has 15 facilities that currently qualify for this efficiency train incentive, with over 20 expected to be qualified by next summer.

The ultimate in efficiency is the high throughput elevator equipped with either single a long track or a loop. Of the 30 loop track country elevators in western Canada, CN accesses two out of three, and most of those are served exclusively by CN. If overall cycle time can be reduced by even one or two days per trip, that translates into a savings of weeks over the course of the crop year, meaning more trips you can make with that set of hoppers — and that means more grain moving on CN’s network.

Growth in Ready Train Origins in Western Canada

Total No. of Elevators

Growth in Ready Train Origins in Western Canada

  Distribution of Loop-Track Elevators in Western Canada

Distribution of Loop-Tracks Elevators in Western Canada
Intermodal truck

For further information about the evolution of grain handling in western Canada or to start shipping grain by rail, please contact David Przednowek .