Port Vancouver key to smoothing Canada grain system: CN

Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:47pm EST
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Greater efficiency at Canada's biggest port, Port Metro Vancouver, is crucial for improving the country's grain transportation system, the head of Canadian National Railway Co said on Thursday.

Montreal, Quebec-based CN, Canada's biggest railway, began last year a grain-loading schedule that it says has improved grain transportation, but greater collaboration among the grain industry, railways and ports is needed, said CEO Claude Mongeau.

"We have to have a fluid pipeline," he told reporters after addressing a business audience in Winnipeg. "That means the loading movement, the unloading at the waterfront in Vancouver in particular has to be fluid and in balance, like a big pipeline.

"At the moment, the challenge is on the waterfront."

Collaboration with Vancouver would include forward planning of shipments, some infrastructure work and balanced traffic in and out of the port, which is "a very congested gateway at the moment," Mongeau said.

A port spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Port Vancouver handled record-setting volumes of grain and coal in 2010 and signed a service agreement with CN that it says has improved service at the port.

Farmers in Western Canada, where most of the country's grain and canola crops grow, are highly dependent on CN and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd because there is no river freight system and distances are too vast to move grain to port by truck.   Continued...