News from Canada tells a sad story and it is hurting the US too:
- Canadian grain shippers can’t get rail cars for weeks
- Halliburton blames Canadian National…for halting new shipments of fracking sand out of Wisconsin and Minnesota
- Degradation of intermodal rail service, including reduced train speeds, increased container dwell times, and a shortage of rail cars, create congestion at marine terminals that can back up throughout the rail network
An EVP from CN, in an apology to grain farmers, explains: "We had gone through prior to 2017, we had six quarters or 18 months of a reduction in volumes, and we entered 2017 with a forecast of a volume increase of about 3 per cent. Very quickly within the first couple months of 2017, we realized we had an increase in volumes of certain commodities between 11 and 20 per cent. By the time we got to the point we realized it was sustainable, it was September, and we said we're short crews, we're short locomotives, and there are pinch points in our network that impacts capacity."
The impact of insufficient locomotives and trained staff on Canada has been significant and troubling. We need to take note – especially as shippers move more volume to intermodal.