Possible train traffic increase depends on economic demand, CN says

Reports of a surge in railway traffic through Burns Lake have been greatly exaggerated.

Amid rumours that traffic on the CN rail line will see dozens of trains speed through the village daily, the company told Lakes District News that for the foreseeable future traffic will amount to about 15 trains per day.

“One hundred trains per day does not seem realistic for short to mid-term future,” said CN spokesperson Alexandre Boulé.

“The increase of the number of trains depends almost exclusively on the demand and CN will continue to invest in the region to support the safe and efficient movement of our customers’ goods to their end markets.”

The rail corridor that runs from Prince George, through Burns Lake and to Prince Rupert carries a large amount of goods to and from the coast. It is possible the volumes will increase as cargo traffic through the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) in 2020 is expected to exceed the levels of last year.

In 2019 alone cargo levels increased by 12 per cent, the highest volume to date for the port.

A total of 29.9 million tonnes of cargo went through PRPA in 2019, 3.2 million tonnes more than in 2018.

Driving the expected rise in cargo volumes are port expansion projects in the works over the next few years, such as the DP World’s Fairview Terminal expansion; Pembina’s Prince Rupert Export Terminal, which might become operational near the end of 2020; and the Vopak Pacific Terminal scheme that is due for a final investment decision this year. They’re worth an anticipated $2 billion in total.

While CN couldn’t give an estimate of possible railway traffic increases, Boulé said the company has invested $345 million across the province to expand and strengthen the rail network, including in the north.

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