Cold Weather Impacts Rail Operations

Source: CIFFA; CN

CN Railway is experiencing the prolonged effects of severe cold weather conditions in their Canadian and U.S. Midwest rail network. As part of CN’s winter preparedness and train operating plan, when cold temperatures fall below -25°C, to ensure safe train operations, train length restrictions go into effect. As a result, trains operating in the corridors from Toronto and Chicago through to Prince Rupert and Vancouver have to be shorter, which means subsequently reduced weekly intermodal capacity. To support their winter train operating plan CN has moved all available crews and locomotives into key locations. They have also established critical situation rooms in Canada and the U.S. to drive optimized traffic control and are committed to moving goods as safely and quickly as possible. However, the weather outlook predicts the Arctic cold will persist for another 7 to 10 days in key areas.

Considering the reduction in train lengths and network capacity there will be a temporary impact to on-time train and terminal dwell performance. The following outlines further network and terminal specifics:

• As the flow of empties is moving into the ports, corresponding flows of loaded containers departing the ports are also reduced.
• Westbound traffic originating in Toronto and Montreal will have increased transit, and in-gate bookings are currently being reviewed to ensure that terminal fluidity is being maintained.
• Container yards in Calgary and Edmonton expect increased congestion, therefore gate reservations will be reduced to a limited quantity this week with the potential for further reductions the following week, weather dependent. Shippers are encouraged to make use of outside container yards for the next 7 to 10 days.
• Based on high empty container ground count and to maintain terminal fluidity, the Chicago Harvey Terminal will be shutting truck gates for OSM empties for two days, from January 1, 00:01 to January 2, 23:59.
• A reduced number of loaded export containers will be accepted at CN’s Saskatchewan Terminal.
• Detroit and Memphis terminals remain fluid and operational.

CN advises that 48 hours of additional transit time should be factored in for all import and export Intermodal traffic moving during this period.

Additional information may be obtained by contacting your local Delmar representative.

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