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On November 21, CN presented an update and a discussion of its Winter Plan to a group of forwarders in attendance at the Hilton Toronto Airport in Mississauga.
Present from CN were Aron Depasquale, Director International Sales, Dan Bresolin, Assistant Vice President, Intermodal-International, Russ Perdue, General Manager, Sales & Marketing, Intermodal International, and Robert Bassett, Market Manager and Business Development, Intermodal.
The event focused on network capacity and winter plan operations. (Developments in CN’s labour situation with the conductors are discussed in a separate CIFFA bulletin item.)
Depasquale led the presentation, beginning with the four key pillars which form the basis of CN’s operating model for the coming winter and beyond. They are: Safety, Resilience, Recoverability and Partnering.
Winter brings particular challenges and CN is committed to putting safety ahead of all other considerations, Depasquale noted.
The tipping point in terms of difficult operating conditions is -25°C. Below that temperature, railway technologies – steel rail, steel wheels, and long compressed air brake systems – become more vulnerable to problems that can disrupt normal operations. Welded rails become less flexible, frozen gaskets leak air at brake hose couplings, ice crystals wear down wheel treads, air hoses freeze and air cannot move consistently through the full length of the compressed air system.
CN has embarked on an extensive capital program adding close to 140 miles of double track, and 14 new and longer sidings. As well, 205 new high horsepower locomotives are in place. The company expects to increase its double stack rail cars by 9% this year.
The network strategy in winter involves assembling a “senior-level winter cabinet” and additional senior staff running 7/24 at all RTC Centers for the winter, with procedures and guidelines in place for managing adverse operating conditions with the goal of maintaining network fluidity.
CN is working with Natural Resources Canada on cold weather testing.
The railway has converted 100 genset cars into air repeater cars to assist with distributed power.
Backup power generators are being deployed across key areas of the network to improve safety and prevent delays.
CN is also investing in automated car inspection portals alerting maintenance to defects.
Learn more here:
Redefining Railcar Inspections:
Access the PDF of the presentation here.