March 7, 2018 11:59 am

CN apologizes for grain shipment backlog, mobilizes more equipment and workers

Interim CN CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest issued an apology for not meeting the expectations of its grain customers nor its own high standards.

Colton Praill / Global News

Canadian National Railway is apologizing for failing to keep grain shipments moving reliably by rail, and said it is taking immediate steps to clear the backlog including mobilizing more train cars and workers.

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The move comes just two days after CN dumped its president and CEO amid growing complaints that the backlog of shipments is compromising Canada’s reputation as a reliable exporter, costing sales and putting farmers in a cash-flow crunch.

READ MORE: Grain industry raising concerns over growing backlog of grain shipments

Interim CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest said in a statement issued Wednesday that the company apologizes for not meeting the expectations of its grain customers nor its own high standards.

He adds the entire CN team has a sense of urgency and is focused on getting it right for farmers and its grain customers as well as regaining the confidence of Canadian businesses and protecting Canada’s reputation as a stable trade partner in world markets.

Among other things, the company says it is offering incentives for key operating employees to delay retirement and postpone vacations, and to entice recently-retired employees to return to work.

READ MORE: Grain bottleneck cause for concern among Saskatchewan farmers

It’s also deploying qualified managers to operate extra trains and adding train crews in western Canada.

The statement was issued one day after Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay gave both CN and CP Rail until March 15 to publicly provide a clear description of how they intend to clear the backlog, as well as their plans for maintaining the fluidity of future shipments.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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