CN Grain Train and Elevator
FEB 10, 2023

Setting a Strong and Steady Pace for Grain Movement

At the mid-point of the crop year, CN has been delivering strong, consistent results for grain movement in Western Canada. Thanks to operational changes implemented this past spring and summer to improve network fluidity and velocity, the railway set both weekly and monthly movement records through the fall and winter. It has also been able to recover quickly from disruptions within the grain supply chain.

Many of these changes are tied to CN’s 2022-23 Winter Plan, but CN has also executed strongly against its 2022-23 Grain Plan. Improved collaboration and communications with customers, unit train slot planning, an increased focus on scheduled train service, new capital investments, have all played a part in CN’s success crop year-to-date. Network velocity, measured as the average number of miles per day that a car travels, has been at its highest level since 2016. Increased velocity creates more capacity for rail customers.

CN Sets Record Performance in October

This performance comes despite the fact grain movement was limited in the first seven weeks of the crop year. Due to the 2021 Western Canadian drought, carry-in stocks as of August 1 were at record low levels. Once harvest of the new crop was underway, CN was able to quickly ramp up grain shipment volumes, working closely with its customers to sync up its fleet deployment with forecast local demand. CN notched its best-ever single month for Western Canadian grain movement in October at 3.3 million metric tonnes, beating the previous record by over 120,000 metric tonnes. During the week of October 16th, CN recorded its best-ever week of grain shipments from Western Canada at 810,000 metric tonnes, beating the previous record by over 55,000 metric tonnes. These records would not have been possible without strong co-ordination and collaboration across the end-to-end supply chain, from farmers to grain companies, country elevators to export terminals, and CN’s team of dedicated railroaders.

Strong Performance Continues Into the End of 2022

While terminal-related productivity issues in Vancouver reduced supply chain capacity in late October and early November, the supply chain on CN roared back through the balance of November. In the process, CN grain shipments reached 3.02 MMT for the month, just shy of the all-time November record. CN also recorded its second-best weekly grain shipment record of 798,000 metric tonnes the week of November 13th. The following months continued the trend. December and January grain movement volumes totalled 2.55 MMT and 2.63 MMT respectively, representing the second-highest volume ever recorded for each month.

Well-Positioned to Deliver in 2023

At the halfway mark of the 2022-23 crop year, CN has already shipped over 15.2 MMT of grain and processed grain products from Western Canada. The company is well on its way to meeting or exceeding its guidance on expected grain shipment volume levels communicated in the 2022-23 CN Grain Plan. CN has also established its ability to meet growing demand for fall grain movement. Demand for grain movement from grain companies and farmers is at its peak in the fall for many reasons. The compound annual growth in CN grain shipment volumes in October and November, measured in average weekly grain shipment levels during that period, has exceeded the compound annual growth in grain production in Western Canada. Investment throughout the end-to-end supply chain - from farmers to grain customers and CN – have made results like these possible.

When all parts of the supply chain work together to plan and set priorities for critical infrastructure investments, the grain industry eliminates bottlenecks and positions itself for growth.
CN Average Western Canadian Grain Shipments per Week
October - November (metric tonnes)
CN Average Wester Canadian Grain Shipments per Week - Graph