CP plans even longer trains in 2012, 2013

Longer rail sidings in several "key regions" of its network are expected to help Canadian Pacific Railway boost the length of its trains by over 10 per cent by the end of 2013.

CP already operates intermodal trains up to 12,000 feet long, which it said is an increase of 40 per cent from 2008. By the end of 2013, CP plans a further 11 per cent increase in the length of its transcontinental trains "by adding growing volumes into existing trains."

"Longer trains allow CP to respond to volume variability without adding extra train starts or leaving business behind, thus improving service for our customers," Mike Franczak, the company’s executive vice-president for operations, said in a release Monday about CP’s plans to "further develop its long train strategy."

The capacity to handle longer trains is expected to come from new and extended sidings in the CP network, as part of the company’s previously announced 2011 capital expansion program

Such investments in the western end of CP’s network are already allowing CP to run potash trains 20 per cent longer, and unit coal trains 18 per cent longer, the company said Monday.

CP bills itself as being at the "forefront" of designing and running longer trains. The company uses "locotrol" technology, which allows a single operator to control locomotive power across multiple locomotives in the same train, and TrAM, a train area marshaling system that’s meant to help ensure "in-train forces" are kept within safe standards.

"By increasing train lengths and realizing strategic long siding investments, CP is maximizing productivity and service, while reducing labour costs and increasing fuel efficiency," Franczak said.

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