Last week, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers talked about concerns over delays in grain delivery as prairie elevators hit 85% capacity.

Stats show 2022  marks the third largest crop in Western Canada, with crop yields estimated at 75 million metric tonnes. 

When it comes to grain movement CN moved a record amount of grain in October.

David Przednowek, CN's Assistant Vice President Of Grain says in the month of October CN moved more grain to Port than ever in its history. 

"We had a record month. We're at basically 3.29 million tonnes of grain shipped for the month of October, which is a great outcome. We also set a record for the most grain we ever shipped in a single week 809,000 tonnes back in grain shipping week 12 - which is the week of October 16."

Reports show there has been some significant terminal productivity reductions at the Port of Vancouver, along with rain which was locked in over the west coast for a time. 

He says that ended up causing some significant issues, which slowed down grain movement right through the supply chain.

"We all got to remember that railways are just one part of the supply chain. You need all the ingredients every week - to bake into the cake - to hit those optimal levels. So right now, the terminals in Vancouver are having trouble keeping up with the rest of the supply chain. That's slowing down the amount of grain that CN can move."

Przednowek says at one point they had about 18 trains that were sitting enroute or at origin that they couldn't advance because the terminals at Port couldn't receive
the deliveries.

Over the weekend, parts of the prairies saw another blast of winter.

Winter tends to bring its own set of challenges for the railways. 

Przednowek says CN published its winter plan back in September which lays out the actions that CN is taking to mitigate the impact of extreme winter operating conditions. 

"We have a fleet of 100 air cars (basically it's a bright red box car with an air compressor in the middle of it) and we put those bright red boxcars in the middle or the end of the train and help charge air through the trains braking systems. So that we can maintain safe braking operations from a personnel perspective. We've increased our headcount total number of employees from January to the end of June by 850, and most of those were conductors and engineers moving those trains. We're going to graduate another 500 conductors by the end of the year here so we're in good shape from a resource perspective that way."

CN has also added 57 high-capacity, high-horsepower locomotives, for a total of 19,150 locomotives.

He says they've introduced a number of locomotive reliability initiatives to make sure that those locomotives are running and operating on the road efficiently, and they've added another 500 high-capacity hopper cars.

He notes CN has made some operational changes in front of winter in terms of how we manage traffic during the winter months. All of those initiatives are laid out in CN's winter plan. If anybody has a chance, it's up on our website and available to be looked at.

You can listen to Glenda-Lee's full interview with CN's Assistant Vice President David Przednowek below.