Western Canada cold blast slows CN Rail freight

Tue Jan 29, 2008 6:51pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway, the country's biggest rail carrier, said on Tuesday it had temporarily cut back freight operations in Western Canada because of extreme cold and wind.

"The health and safety of our employees and the security of our customers' shipments are CN's top priority. After carefully evaluating the situation in Western Canada, we have determined that modifying our freight operations is the most prudent course of action for all our stakeholders," CN Chief Executive Hunter Harrison said in a statement.

CN expects reduced freight operations for up to 36 hours. Customers should expect delayed transit times for shipments, CN said, adding it will regularly update clients on the status of its operations.

Canada's Prairie region is struggling with a bitter cold snap that has seen temperatures in some areas fall as low as -40 Celsius (-40 Fahrenheit) -- feeling even colder when the wind chill is factored in.

The deep freeze -- accompanied by blowing snow in some regions -- has made driving treacherous, prompted school closures and halted some oil and gas production. The cold snap is expected to last another four days.

(Reporting by Rob Wilson; editing by Jeffrey Jones)