UPDATE 1-CN Rail to reach weekly grain volume target -CEO

Wed Apr 9, 2014 4:26pm EDT
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(Adds comments by elevator group, CP, transport expert; CN on grain orders)

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 9 (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Co, the country's biggest railroad, this week will reach the minimum weekly grain volume ordered by the government, easing a massive crop jam, Chief Executive Claude Mongeau said on Wednesday.

Mongeau, speaking to reporters after addressing a business audience in Winnipeg, said the company will move 500,000 tonnes of grain this week as required by a government order. The order also requires rival Canadian Pacific Railway Limited to move 500,000 tonnes this week.

Transport Canada spokeswoman Ashley Kelahear confirmed the railways were on course to reaching their targets as of March 29, the most recent data available.

The grain backlog is due to extreme circumstances, Mongeau said, such as a record 76 million tonne Western Canada crop and the most severe winter in decades.

"I'm sorry that we failed our customers, all of them, not just grain, (by) not being able to meet all their demands," Mongeau said. "But I don't control the weather."

Millions of tonnes of grain, worth up to C$20 billion ($18.3 billion), are sitting in country elevators and farm bins, with the railways behind on tens of thousands of car orders from grain handlers.

But the situation is improving.   Continued...