CN Rail to purchase 350 lumber cars

CN Rail has announced it will buy 350 centrebeam lumber cars to serve growing demand from lumber producing customers across its North American network.

“We are investing to move the economy as we put the rolling stock, infrastructure and people in place to serve the growing needs of our valued customers,” said JJ Ruest, interim president and chief executive officer of CN. “These additional centrebeams, combined with our recently-announced acquisition of 350 additional box cars, give us the tools to put more capacity at the disposal of business partners such as West Fraser. CN needs to and will do better moving lumber to market.”

The new-build, 73-foot riserless centrebeams, with a maximum load capacity of 286,000 pounds, are expected to be delivered starting in September. CN is also looking at an option to purchase or lease an additional 300 cars. “West Fraser looks forward to continuing to work with partners who can provide an effective supply chain serving the solid U.S. housing market,” said Ted Seraphim, president and chief executive officer of West Fraser.

The new cars will be manufactured in Canada by National Steel Car Ltd. at its assembly plant in Hamilton, Ont.

“National Steel Car has been building new freight cars for CN since 1919 and we are honoured to have the opportunity to continue to support CN and the customers they serve throughout North America,” said Gregory J. Aziz, chairman and chief executive officer of National Steel Car Limited. “This order will result in the hiring of over 250 employees at our Hamilton assembly plant, which currently employs more than 1,500 people, and will provide extended benefits for Hamilton and the Canadian economy.”

Bob Bratina, Member of Parliament for Hamilton East – Stoney Creek, said: “CN’s investment in new cars to be built at National Steel Car’s Hamilton plant is huge for the city, but its impact ripples far beyond the Ontario steel and manufacturing economy. This is an investment in the Canadian economy and workers across the country.”

Said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, “Hamiltonians are proud of the role CN plays in our community, and this announcement is another vote of confidence in Hamilton and our skilled workforce.”

As part of CN’s record $3.4 billion capital program in 2018, the company is investing in new trade-enabling infrastructure and equipment. In addition to rail cars, CN expects starting in June to take delivery of the first of 60 new GE locomotives due in service in 2018.

This spring, CN has started its largest-ever infrastructure investment program, which includes $400 million to build new track and yard capacity to handle increased traffic across CN’s Western Region, and to Chicago. The infrastructure program includes new siding and double track projects benefiting forest products, grain, intermodal, coal and potash business.

After adding hundreds of train conductors to the field so far this year, CN continues to hire with a particular focus on crews in Western Canada. Approximately 1,250 more train conductors will be in the field before the next winter, compared to the number of conductors available before last winter.