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May 3, 2018 11:45 AM, EDT
Canadian National to Buy 350 Center Beam Railcars
Canadian National Railway Brent Lewin/Bloomberg News

Canadian National Railway plans to purchase 350 73-foot center beam railcars to meet the growing demand for transporting lumber products, the Montreal-based railroad announced May 2.

CN also said it is looking at an option to purchase or lease an additional 300 cars. Each railcar has a maximum load capacity of 286,000 pounds.

The railcars will be purchased from National Steel Car Ltd., which will manufacture them at its assembly plant in Hamilton, Ontario. National Steel Car has been building freight cars for CN for almost 100 years.

Jean-Jacques Ruest

Ruest by Canadian National

“We are investing to move the economy as we put the rolling stock, infrastructure and people in place to serve the growing needs of our valued customers,” said interim CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest, who also is executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “CN needs to and will do better moving lumber to market.”

Bob Bratina, a member of the Canadian Parliament, said, “CN’s investment in new cars to be built at National Steel Car’s Hamilton plant is huge for the city, but its impact ripples far beyond the Ontario steel and manufacturing economy. This is an investment in the Canadian economy and workers across the country.

“This order will result in the hiring of over 250 employees at our Hamilton assembly plant, which currently employs more than 1,500 people, and will provide extended benefits for Hamilton and the Canadian economy.”

Besides railcars, CN expects in June to begin taking delivery of the first of 60 new GE locomotives due in service in 2018. The railcar and locomotive purchases are part of the company’s $3.4 billion capital program for 2018.

Canadian National operates a transcontinental rail network of 19,600 miles across North America, offering fully integrated transportation services, including intermodal, trucking, freight forwarding, warehousing and distribution. It transports about $250 billion in goods annually.