CN investing approximately $340 million to expand and strengthen B.C.’s rail infrastructure in 2018

by Keith Powell
Close-up picture of CN Rail engine.

The CN Rail network spans 20,000 route-miles across Canada and mid-America. — Photo courtesy CN Rail

CN (TSX:CNR) (NYSE:CNI) said it plans to invest approximately $340 million across British Columbia in 2018 to expand and strengthen the Company’s rail network throughout the province.

“We are investing for the long haul with these projects to boost capacity and network resiliency to meet growing traffic on our corridors to and from the West Coast and across B.C.,” said Doug Ryhorchuk, vice-president of CN’s Western Region. “Our investments in infrastructure, equipment and people will help us deliver superior service to our customers across the province and North America. Additionally, our substantial investments to renew our existing railway infrastructure underscore our commitment to operating safely.”

The B.C. investments are part of CN’s record $3.4 billion capital program for 2018 and include key track expansion projects that will boost capacity, allowing CN to better service growing forest products, intermodal, grain and industrial customers. Other program elements will focus on the replacement, upgrade and maintenance of key track infrastructure to improve overall safety and efficiency.

"These major capital investments are a sign of CN's commitment to its operations in B.C., which continues to lead Canada in economic growth," said Carla Qualtrough, Member of Parliament for Delta, B.C. "CN's infrastructure investments this year throughout B.C. will help strengthen local economies, support good middle class jobs and further solidify B.C.'s economic advantage as Canada's Pacific Gateway."

Planned expansion projects include:

  • Construction of four new train passing sidings between Prince Rupert and Jasper, Alberta
  • Extension of three existing passing sidings between Prince Rupert and Jasper
  • A siding extension north of Kamloops on CN’s Vancouver to Edmonton corridor

Maintenance program highlights include:            

  • Replacement of approximately 115 miles of rail
  • Installation of more than 335,000 new railroad ties
  • Rebuilds of approximately 50 road crossing surfaces
  • Maintenance work on bridges, including continuation of the multi-year maintenance project on the Fraser River Bridge
  • Other maintenance work on culverts, signal systems and additional track infrastructure

CN’s B.C. rail network serves the West Coast gateways of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, and major inland terminals in Surrey, Prince George, Kamloops and Fort Nelson.

"Strong transportation networks are so important to our trade- and resource-based economy in B.C.,” said Val Litwin, president and chief executive officer of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce. “We are pleased to see CN making capital investments in B.C. that will expand our rail network, improve rail service to our businesses providing and supporting thousands of jobs across our provincial economy."

CN investing for the long haul

Across its network, CN continues to invest in trade-enabling infrastructure and equipment. Earlier this year, CN announced plans to acquire 350 new box cars to serve forest products and metals customers and to purchase 350 new lumber cars to meet growing demand to move wood products, particularly from B.C. In May, CN Announced that it plans to acquire 1,000 Canadian built, new generation high-cube grain hopper cars over the next two years to rejuvenate the aging equipment needed to serve increasing annual crop yields. In June, CN will take delivery of the first of 60 new GE locomotives due in service in 2018. The balance of a multi-year, 200-unit order will be brought online in 2019 and 2020.

After adding hundreds of conductors to the field so far this year, CN continues to hire with a particular focus on crews in Western Canada. Approximately 1,250 new qualified conductors will be in the field network wide before next winter, compared to heading into the previous winter.  

CN is also pleased to announce the establishment of a new, two-year Management Trainee Program designed to provide a solid operational background for the railway’s next generation of leaders. Over the course of the program, trainees will learn how CN operates and gain exposure to the Company’s business agenda of operational and service excellence for its customers across North America. Successful graduates will be placed in full-time, permanent management positions aligned with individual educational background and experience.  The first 50 trainees, from both Canada and the United States, will start in July 2018.

British Columbia in numbers:

  • Capital investments: More than $1.1 billion in last five years
  • Employees: approximately 2,400
  • Railroad route miles operated: 2,815
  • Community partnerships: $876,000 in 2017
  • Local spending: $464 million in 2017
  • Cash taxes paid: $79 million in 2017

About CN:

CN is a true backbone of the economy whose team of approximately 25,000 railroaders transports more than C$250 billion worth of goods annually for a wide range of business sectors, ranging from resource products to manufactured products to consumer goods, across a rail network of approximately 20,000 route-miles spanning Canada and mid-America. CN – Canadian National Railway Company, along with its operating railway subsidiaries – serves the cities and ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala., and the metropolitan areas of Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North America. For more information about CN, visit the Company’s website at www.cn.ca.

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