CN Rail will invest $105 million in capital spending in Manitoba in 2020, Sean Finn, CN’s executive vice-president of corporate services and chief legal officer, said in an interview July 15.
About half the money will be used for maintenance, including rail and tie replacement, bridges, level crossings, culverts, signal systems and other track infrastructure.
The other half will boost railway capacity, Finn said.
CN will spend $2.9 billion in capital projects across Canada this year, he added. About half the money will got to maintenance and the rest to expand capacity.
The capital spending figures don’t include the purchase of new cars or locomotives, Finn said.
“When you add locomotives and cars you can almost double the capital that will be deployed in the province of Manitoba to serve our customers,” he said.
CN has spent $355 million in capital spending in Manitoba the last three years.
CN will spend $105 million in capital works in Saskatchewan this year, $305 million in Alberta and $435 million in British Columbia — most of it at the Port of Vancouver.
Meanwhile, CN sees signs that rail traffic, other than grain, could be returning.
“It took longer than we thought,” Finn said. “We see demand for various commodities coming back in the course of the fall… It will depend on the severity of the so-called second wave. We’re watching it and getting ready. That’s why we’re doing the capital work now because if there is a big demand for product in the fall and early winter we have to be ready for it.”
CN has been setting grain shipping records in recent months, thanks in part to CN’s dedicated staff, Finn said.
“Our colleagues working on the railway never stopped during the COVID pandemic,” he said.
“I have to take off my hat. These are committed employees that every day go to work notwithstanding health challenges and risks.”
Of CN’s 26,000 employees across North America, 90 have been infected with COVID-19, Finn said. There were about 30 cases among Canadian-based employees and 60 in the United States, he said.