Canadian National is spending nearly US$39 million to add tracks and make rail yard improvements on busy lanes in and east of Edmonton, Alberta, that handle rail traffic for Canada and the U.S. Midwest.
CN said the work includes adding capacity to an oil sands region of northern Alberta, and increasing velocity at its Walker Yard in Edmonton that builds commodity and merchandise carload trains. It’s one of the carrier’s largest such rail yards in western Canada. CN handles intermodal traffic at a separate terminal in Edmonton.
Much of the work will target the Wainwright Subdivision of track, which runs east of Edmonton to Biggar, Saskatchewan. Company spokesman Mark Hallman said that is “a key segment of CN's transcontinental main line (and) one of the highest-density corridors on CN's system.”
The subdivision carries merchandise, bulk commodity and intermodal trains from western to eastern Canada and into the central U.S.
Hallman said the segment’s intermodal business includes ocean containers arriving at the Pacific Ocean ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, bound for central Canada, Chicago and Memphis, plus domestic intermodal traffic.
These investments, said Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel, will “increase network capacity and improve train velocity along our transcontinental main line between Edmonton and Winnipeg, and to be positioned to handle greater volumes of freight over our line to Fort McMurray -- the gateway to Alberta's oil sands production region.”
The projects include building 3.5 miles of track between two sidings, about 20 miles east of Edmonton, to create a 7.9-mile double-tracked zone. That will help dispatchers keep trains moving from opposite directions and boost average train velocity.
Other work will add track to the Clover Bar rail yard in Edmonton to aid car switching and speed train moves in and out, plus reconfiguring part of the big Walker Yard. And CN is adding capacity in northern Alberta to support more traffic for its Fort McMurray yard in the oil sands region.