CN rail is seeing grain transportation numbers slowing as temperatures are getting warmer and some farmers beginning seeding.

That's the outlook of the Assistant Vice President of Grain from CN Rail David Przednowek.

"You go back to the first week of April and demand for both grain movement on CN was around 5600 cars, for the week of May 7th It's down to around 3000. Now, you got some of the seasonal impacts there, of course, as we're getting into the field and the fact that there's just less and less grain available for movement as we get deeper and deeper into the crop year." 

"Customer demand for grain movements definitely well below CN's grain supply chain guidance outside of winter and it's going to stay that way through the new crop now unless something really dramatic changes in terms of the demand outlook."  

Przednowek says they're also doing well for grain car fulfillment.

"CN's been consistently filling 90 to 100% of the grain car orders within the one week requested, or within one to three days at the end of the week for the for grain shipped in Week 39, which was the week of April 23rd." 

"CN Supply at 100% of the planned orders within the week requested, so we are very current to demand right now and you know  with the demand declining of course, we're parking more and more of our hopper car fleet because it's not needed, so we'll just keep on working on that and syncing that up with demand between now and into the new crop."  

CN did see some disruption from the strike action earlier this week, but that manifested in a single incident.

"There were specific terminals in Vancouver and Thunder Bay that reported impacts from the strike," said Przednowek, "One terminal in Vancouver saw a loss of unloads when terminal workers were delayed from entering the facility as a result of picketing. That was an isolated incident in the whole scheme of things and things are back to normal. We didn't see any dramatic impact of the labour disruption in terms of overall grain movement."

Przednowek also had something to say about the recent federal government plans for interswitching.

"You'll hear some people out there that are suggesting that this is going to make grain movement more efficient. It will have the opposite effect. Common sense dictates that handling a rail car multiple times when you could handle it once is less efficient and that takes more time too and adds time to car cycles and when things are less efficient and take more time, that drives costs up."

"That extends to grain freight rates too, and that will go right to farmers, bottom lines, plain and simple. So we're disappointed that those provisions are being considered and, you know CN wants to contribute to efficiency in the supply chain. We don't want to see it impeded and reduced to the detriment of farmers and all other grain shippers."