Canada's two major railways — CN and CP Rail — will invest $4.5 billion this year to meet the challenges of moving goods in harsh winter climates.
CP, which operates most of the southern routes on the Prairies, plans $1.6 billion on safety, network flexibility, increased capacity and communications according to the company's 2020-21 winter plan.
Highlights of the winter plan include:
- Air brake flow monitoring to maintain pressure
- Technology to automatically detect cold wheels
- Predictive powers to forecast rilling stock failures
- High-speed camera inspection systems
- In-house testing of new air brake valve gasket materials
- Modernizing 201 locomotives and training over 400 employees
- Expanding temperature forecasts system
CN will invest $2.9 billion on the winter plan with a focus on double tracking parts of the mainline, extending sidings, increasing yard tracks and building more infrastructure in both Port of Vancouver and Port of Prince Rupert areas.
CN will acquire 1,500 new grain hopper railcars for the 2020–2021 crop year.
Adding 260 new locomotives, for over 2,200 winter-prepped locomotives, should reduce loss of traction from ice, snow and water, resulting in wheel slippage. The new locomotives are 100 per cent alternating current, improving traction.
Forty-one more air distribution cars will assist in a consistent flow of air through brake lines, allowing longer trains.
Sidings will be added and lengthened to allow trains to meet and pass for 140 miles of double track on mainlines, mostly in Western Canada.
Yard capacity will be increased at Winnipeg, Melville and Edmonton.
Ron Walter can be reached at email@example.com