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Canadian Railways Ration Space as Commodity Congestion Worsens

CN and CP are struggling to meet demand from new trade deals

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Canada’s two major railways are rationing space on trains traveling to the country’s biggest port and recently prioritized some commodities over others to deal with congestion, the latest indication of their struggle to meet demand from new trade deals.

Reuters reports that move prompted Canada’s transport regulator last week to start an investigation into rail services around Port Metro Vancouver, after shippers complained of “discriminatory treatment of certain commodities” by Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP).

Both railways last month rationed the volume of traffic around Vancouver by restricting movement of some commodities, according to shipper notices seen by Reuters.

Since the railways’ embargo and permit system was implemented, the flow of cars to grain terminals has improved. But it is unclear how the backlog happened in the first place, said Wade Sobkowich, executive director of Western Grain Elevator Association.

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