Survey says … CIAC members concerned by rail service interruptions across CN’s network

Canada’s chemistry sector relies heavily on rail transportation to move its products from production facilities to customers.  Significant issues since late November across Canadian National’s (CN) network have resulted in some negative impacts for CIAC member-companies. We decided to find out exactly what those were in a survey to members.

Initial results of CIAC members with production facilities across Canada show that seven had to curtail production in recent weeks due to rail service challenges. A total of 13 reported transportation challenges. These include all of the major shippers (more than 250 rail cars a week) and many of the intermediate shippers (between 50-250 cars a week).  Five companies have had near or actual shutdowns.  Eight members were forced to shift to other modes of transportation, when it was feasible.

It is also instructive that at least eight of CIAC members’ customers faced near or actual shutdowns.

Respondents also highlighted challenges around service issues such as last-minute cancellations; missed, delayed or partial switches; increased transit times; and inconsistent recovery plans.

The cumulative effects and larger financial impact when transportation networks fail to provide on-time service to producers is significant — responders say millions of dollars in lost product sales occurred.

CIAC has been saying for years the system needs to be able to respond faster. If we want new significant investment in the chemistry sector in Canada we need a safe, reliable and competitively priced rail service. 

This additional real-time information becomes extremely useful in recent and upcoming advocacy meetings with the government, Transport Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency.

This is a busy time for CIAC on the transportation advocacy front.

On January 25th, CIAC met with Minister Garneau’s office.  The meeting focused on service issues, Bill C-49, and TDG and TRANSCAER®

In the coming week, CIAC has a meeting with senior officials at the Canadian Transportation Agency and CIAC’s Executive Vice President, Isabelle Des Chênes, will be testifying before the Senate Committee on Transportation and Communication on February 6th.   CIAC’s comments will parallel previous testimony given to the committee of the House of Commons and will focus on stressing the importance of getting this Bill passed in an expedient manner.