In 2011, more than half a million carloads/intermodal units moved over CN's B.C. North corridor. Traffic along the line could come close to doubling by 2015.
CN has extended or constructed 21 sidings to handle 12,000-foot trains between Edmonton and Prince Rupert since 2004. This is in addition to new signaling and train control, several tunnel and bridge clearances, yard expansions at Smithers and Terrace, B.C., and the installation of a longer siding at Swan Landing, AB.
CN's investments since 2004 in capacity expansion along the Edmonton-Prince Rupert corridor will total more than C$150 million (US$147.8 million) by the end of this year, with further extended sidings expected to be built in future years.
Keith Creel, CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer, said: "CN's sizable investments in rail infrastructure in northern B.C. and western Alberta are helping us accommodate growing import-export traffic moving between the Port of Prince Rupert, the B.C. interior and major centers across CN's network in Canada and the United States. The investments will also help us better move rising export coal volumes from existing and new mines in the region to Ridley Terminals at Prince Rupert, whose handling capacity is expected to double by the end of 2014 to 24 million tons.
"The longer sidings increase the fluidity of operations in this major CN freight corridor and allow us to haul increased volumes in safer, more efficient trains equipped with distributed power (DP) technology."
DP permits remote control of a locomotive or locomotives throughout a train from the lead control locomotive. DP provides faster, smoother train starts, improved braking and lower pulling forces at the head-end of a train, and improved safety. With more optimum matching of motive power to train weight, DP locomotives allow CN to reduce fuel consumption and reduce environmental emissions.
Creel said: "Our infrastructure investments are critical parts of our B.C. North Gateway strategy to handle increased volumes of containers, coal and other commodities to and from the Port of Prince Rupert. This strategy aims to help CN tap new opportunities efficiently and productively while helping our customers to expand their businesses and compete more effectively in their end markets."