Business

CN Rail resumes regular operations after deal reached with union

Operations resume at Canada's largest railway, a day after CN Rail and union officials reached a tentative deal to end an eight-day-long strike that had triggered a severe propane shortage and left many Canadian exports stranded.

Shippers warn it could take weeks to see service fully back to normal

Details of the agreement between CN Rail and Teamsters Canada, which has not yet been ratified, weren't immediately available. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Operations resumed at Canada's largest railway on Wednesday, a day after CN Rail and union officials reached a tentative deal to end an eight-day-long strike that had triggered a severe propane shortage and left many Canadian exports stranded.

A CN spokesperson said on Wednesday that there were no hiccups in the return to work and that trains were resuming operations as expected. The company had said Tuesday operations would resume across Canada at 6 a.m. local time on Wednesday.

The some 3,200 striking conductors and yard workers had been demanding improved working conditions, including rest breaks.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that the union's release of recorded pleas of an exhausted rail worker wanting a break after a 10-hour shift helped deliver a critical breakthrough in securing the preliminary agreement.

That deal help the end of the country's biggest railway strike in a decade.

The CN spokesperson would not comment on Wednesday about the duration of any backlog or the recovery process. Shippers had warned on Tuesday it could take weeks before service normalized.

Canada relies on CN and Canadian Pacific Railway Co. to move crops, oil, potash, coal and manufactured goods to ports and the United States. About half of Canada's exports move by rail, according to industry data.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday the government would be monitoring CN's return to operations, saying it would take a few days for the railway to ramp its operations back up. CN, he said, would "get going as quickly as possible."

"CN is a very experienced large company, and yes, they're very aware of all the goods that we need to be moving," Garneau said.

CN shares rose 0.4 per cent in early trading Wednesday, adding to Tuesday's 1.3 per cent gains. Canada's benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index was little changed.

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