Sask. farmers expressing frustration over grain backlog
After last fall's bumper crop, rail cars aren't moving
Frustration is growing among Saskatchewan farmers who harvested a bumper crop last fall, but can't get it to market.
The railways, CN and Canadian Pacific Railway, say they have had to shorten their trains because of cold weather and that's why they are having trouble meeting orders for grain cars.
The Prairies have experienced a much-higher-than-normal number of days in which temperatures have dipped below –30 C.
Bjorn Bjorndalen, who farms near Torquay, Sask., says his wheat is just sitting there. Bjorndalen said he's seeing big trains moving through the province, just not for grain.
"I can go down to Estevan and watch huge big long strings of train going with containers cars on and oil cars on but I don't see grain cars," Bjorndalen said.
However, CN says it rejects the notion that its crude-by-rail business is displacing grain on the company's rail network. It says crude oil in 2013 accounted for just 1.4 per cent of the company's total carloadings of freight.
Bjorndalen says no matter what is causing the problem, it has left farmers in a bad situation because they can't get paid for their crop until it makes it to market.
Meanwhile, with temperatures dropping to the low –30s on the weekend, the cold weather was too much for some of CN's trains.
The railway's mainline kept on operating, but all trains were suspended on three branch lines in Saskatchewan.
They included a line running from Brandon to Bienfait, another from Maryfield to Lampman and a third from Maryfield to Regina.
The trains were scheduled to start running again this morning at 8 a.m. CST.