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An update from Murray Hamilton

November, 2017

While farming is anything but predictable, there is a certain rhythm to events that are cyclical and familiar. Cultivating, seeding, fertilizing, harvesting, storing… and then transporting. Of course, you could argue that some of those events are unpredictable with challenging inputs and unknowable outcomes, including transportation.

Over the last couple of years, we have made it our mission to be more accountable and more available to our customers and supply chain partners. Most importantly, that means moving your product to market and doing what we say we are going to do. But it also means getting out there and educating more people about the grain supply chain and the role rail plays in it.

On November 7, I presented at the Inland Terminal Association of Canada conference in Saskatoon, where I spoke about the many ways CP is improving rail efficiency and advancing our vision for Canadian grain. As many of you know, much of our success is tied to our Dedicated Train Program (DTP), which allows customers the ability to control origin placement, lock in capacity for designated corridors and have the flexibility to load on either side of the border and to multiple ports.

Like farming itself, our business is cyclical – each crop-year we deliver grain and grain products to market and then work to do it better, more efficiently and safer the next time. Our key input? Your input. Your feedback after the 2013/14 crop-year helped us implement the DTP. Working in close collaboration makes the supply chain stronger and more efficient.

So how are we doing this crop-year? CP moved more Canadian grain this October than any October before. That's on top of a record-setting September. October also featured an all-time best movement of grain cars to Vancouver. Through 15 weeks, we have moved 6 percent more grain than the same point a year ago.

The shipping demand we're seeing this fall is strong, and we're handling it efficiently in close consultation with you, our supply-chain partners. Your efforts to this point are worth celebrating, so let's keep it up.

As we approach winter, there will no doubt be challenges – those we can foresee and those we cannot. In the weeks ahead, I look forward to writing about our winter preparations and giving you more insight into our ongoing efforts to run smoothly and efficiently through the holiday season and beyond.

If you have any questions, concerns or even just a story of a recent success with our business, feel free to drop me a note at grain_questions@cpr.ca. We had good engagement through email last month, and look forward to hearing from you again.  

Murray Hamilton
Assistant-Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Grain  

October, 2017

As the leaves change colour and a chill enters the air here in Manitoba and across the prairies, we know one thing – harvest is upon us. This is the time of the year we at CP prepare for, and look forward to. As a grain railroad for more than 100 years, harvest is crucial to us at CP.

Through nine weeks of the crop year, we have moved 7% more grain than last year, which is a good start. September was a strong month for CP and the Canadian grain supply chain. In fact, an excellent Grain Shipping Week (GSW) 9, ending September 30, helped push CP to an all-time record for monthly Canadian grain loadings.

Harvest appears well advanced from last year and is above the five-year average.  Of course, what we don't know is how big the crop will be and how drought conditions and other factors, including snow in Alberta, will impact you and our supply chain partners. What we do know is this: we are ready to work with you to get your product to market safely and efficiently. 

Our railway and the ports are fluid. Customer load to bill times in the country and unload times at the ports are all trending in the right direction.  We are also seeing our time-to-lift (picking up loaded cars) and time-to-place (delivering cars to the ports) positively reducing as well.  Overall, the grain supply chain is operating quite well, at this point in time. 

This is the first of what will be regular updates from me, to you - our producers, shippers and supply chain partners. I look forward to talking with you again in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, if you have any questions or ideas for future notes, updates on your own harvesting efforts, or just want to say hi, drop me an email at grain_questions@cpr.ca.

Murray Hamilton
Assistant Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Grain