Tuesday, June 21, 2022

CN outlines spending plans for BC infrastructure; faces new labour woes on the railroad

The CN Rail network across Northern British Columbia

CN Rail provided a snapshot of their spending plans on infrastructure on Monday, making note in an announcement of 390 million dollars to be spent in British Columbia in a wide range of areas both on the rails of the province and in other areas.

The maintenance program provides for work in four key elements of Rail operations.

Maintenance program highlights include: 

Replacing 111 miles of rail
Installing approximately 126,000 new railroad ties
Rebuilding 37 road crossing surfaces
Maintenance work on bridges, culverts, signal systems, and other track infrastructure

The railway also noted of spending towards investments in technology, capacity, rolling stock units and company-wide decarbonization initiatives, as well as network improvement.

"We continue to make significant investments in our network, technology, and capacity. We are building the premier railroad of the 21st century to do even more for our customers, railroaders, shareholders, and the communities in which we operate." - Sean Finn, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services and Chief Legal Officer of CN

No specific breakdown as to where those investments would take place along the CN Rail network were outlined as part of the Monday announcement.

British Columbia's Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming noted of the importance of the investments towards the supply chain that the province is home to.

 “CN’s rail network is critical to the supply chain and underpins the provincial and national economy. The efficient and reliable transportation of goods will be especially valuable as the economy recovers from the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19.”

That supply chain transit however my have a rough patch ahead, while CN was rolling out their investment plan for 2022, labour issues once again dominated the national scene, with members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers going out on strike over the weekend.

The workers who mostly handle the railway's signals infrastructure rejected the latest mediators offer

CN for its part, suggests that it will remain business as usual, having implemented its operation contingency plan in response to the situation. 

"The plan allows the Company to maintain a normal level of safe rail operations across Canada and serve its customers for as long as required."

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

The union for its part, has yet to issue a public response to the labour dispute.

However,  those who follow supply chain issues suggest that at some point any lengthy labour disruption would have an impact on CN Rails abilities to move freight, something which would have a spin off impact on facilities that rely on the railway for their transportation needs.

CN Rail signal and communication workers on strike for better pay and benefits
CN, union at loggerheads on wages, conditions as strike enters third day
CN, union spar over impact of strike on Canada's largest railroad

Any long term labour dispute impacting on ability to move goods likely would bring the involvement of the Federal Government in response to the concerns over supply chain reliability in Canada.

More notes on CN Rail can be reviewed here.

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