Rail reliability remains a key talking point

The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute hosted a discussion this week on railway reliability.

CAPI notes that rail service is a critical link in Canada’s agri-food value chain and the brief work stoppage at one of Canada’s major railways has highlighted one of the issues
that may impact the reliability of this service.

Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association, was one of the panel members.

He noted that we had poor rail service until about 2017-18, then Bill C 49 – the Transportation Modernization Act was passed.

“Then we had two years of pretty good service overall. It wasn’t perfect, but it was acceptable I would say. We may now be entering a new era of more balanced and better service, and the ability of the railways to move freight, but we are also cautious about this, because we knew that the last two years we were in covid.”

Karen Proud, President and CEO of Fertilizer Canada, was also on the panel.

She spoke about the importance of reliable rail service to the fertilizer industry and the impact it can have.

“Our eastern provinces are very, very dependent on nitrogen fertilizers from Russia during this time of the year in order to be ready for the planting seasons. So when the war started and the sanctions are We were already trying to supply this country to make sure farmers had what they needed when the time came in. Then we ended up with this CP strike or lockout – no matter what they ended up calling it in the end – and that was extremely concerning as well.

Jessica C. Bell