CP improves grain service with technology, operations enhancements

by Canadian Shipper

CALGARY, Alta. — Canadian Pacific officials say the railway has improved service for its Canadian grain customers this crop year by reducing scheduling variability and increasing access to rail car supply. Crop year-to-date, empty order fulfillment, a metric that highlights rail car availability, has increased by 19% or 11,000 units vs. a year ago.

In 2011, CP simplified how it serves its Canadian grain network by grouping more than 165 prairie-based elevators into eight separate operating hubs. Within these hubs, the railway commits locomotives and a dedicated scheduled day of week service to each elevator. Officials say this operating model has delivered a 26% improvement in on-time performance.

“We have worked in conjunction with our grain customers to facilitate a strong network of modern grain elevators located on the Canadian Prairies that are capable of loading 112 car unit trains within a 24-hour period, adding significantly to the efficiency of the grain handling and transportation system,” said Steve Whitney, vice-president of agri-business and market development at CP. “Our results confirm that by eliminating the variability in grain service scheduling, we not only provide better communications and service to our customers but unlock capacity across the entire logistics chain.”

Technology upgrades also added to CP’s success story with the introduction of CP’s Grain Car Request System (GCRS), a new and more efficient way for its customers to request cars and track their shipments. The Web portal platform in support of this system allows customers to view their request status and service plans online and in real time. GCRS allows CP a level of planning flexibility that has proven key to the successful delivery of improved year over year performance.

“Based on these types of sustained improvements, CP is positioned to continue to deliver year over year improvements, such as playing a larger role in the all-rail eastern export program this winter,” added Whitney.

Across Canada and the US, CP moves an average of more than 45 million tonnes of grain annually from 395 origin elevators to 30 different port terminals. CP’s Grain service reliability program, hub model and new ordering systems are now being evaluated for potential synergies with US franchises.

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