Canadian Pacific Invests in New High-Capacity Hopper Cars for its Grain Trains

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd (CP) has ordered 1,000 new high-capacity grain hopper cars from National Steel Car Ltd. These cars should be in service before the end of 2018. CP also plans to order an additional 5,900 hopper cars from the same company by 2022. The total investment by CP is worth more than half a billion dollars.

Keith Creel, CP President and Chief Executive Officer, said:

 “For more than 100 years, grain has been embedded in CP’s DNA. It’s the largest sector of CP’s business by revenue, and we’re committed to continuous improvement for the benefit of our customers and the North American economy. These new railcars will revitalize our fleet and help cement our status as an industry leader in grain transportation for decades to come.”

As the new cars enter service all low-capacity cars, including Government of Canada hoppers, will be removed from the CP fleet.

The design of the new high-capacity cars is shorter and lighter than the older model, but can carry more grain: an increase of 15% by volume and 10% by weight. The three-pocket design of the cars can also be loaded and unloaded more efficiently than the four-pocket design of the government cars. The components of these cars are considered to be more reliable, which will reduce out-of-service intervals for maintenance. The shorter length of the cars facilitates the attachment of a larger number of them to a single train.

The grain trains currently operated by the company are 7,000 feet in length and can accommodate 112 hopper cars. The design of the new hoppers permits the attachment of 118 cars to the train. The total capacity for grain in each train will increase by 16%. CP intends to eventually purchase trains that are 8,500 feet in length, to which 147 cars can be fitted. This increase in capacity is necessary to facilitate CP’s annual shipments of grain. During the 2017–18 crop year it moved 22 metric tonnes of grain across its network.

Andrew Paterson, President and CEO of Paterson GlobalFoods, said:

“With our growing network of facilities capable of handling 8,500-foot trains, this highly efficient hopper car capacity will benefit our supply chain and support the growth in volumes that we are pursuing in the competitive western Canadian marketplace.”

Transportation Modernization Act

CP and the Government of Canada say that this investment was only possible because of the provisions in the newly ratified Transportation Modernization Act: C-49. The Act included amendments to the Maximum Revenue Entitlement formula in Canada that CP deemed necessary to proceed with the upgrade to its fleet. CP is the first Class 1 railway in the country to announce such an investment in its infrastructure that is directly based on the provisions in the Act.

Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in the federal government, said:

“CP’s investment in new hopper cars will directly benefit Canada’s farmers, grain shippers and the economy as a whole. This investment results from the positive conditions recently brought in by the Transportation Modernization Act and will improve the efficiency of the freight rail network in Canada, which will help ensure farmers are able to reliably get their products to market.”

Keith Creel added:

“I applaud Parliament for its passage of the Transportation Modernization Act, which supports the supply-chain innovation we’re announcing today. It’s a bill notable not only for this grain enhancement, but for enabling the use of data from locomotive voice and video recording equipment as a proactive measure to improve railway safety. This act is truly a step forward for efficiency and safety in Canada’s rail sector.”

Reaping the Benefits

Gregory J. Aziz, Chairman and CEO of National Steel Car, said:

“This newly designed and manufactured National Steel Car equipment will provide huge benefits to CP, our economy, and the entire grain delivery supply chain. National will have the opportunity to hire and train several hundred additional personnel, who are seeking permanent long-term careers, in a variety of disciplines.”

CP is also increasing its workforce and more than 700 people are in various stages of training for jobs in the company. In addition to the new hopper cars CP is also investing in 100 new locomotives, which will enter service by the end of the summer.

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