A government program aimed at reducing Canada’s grain backlog had been a boon to Hamilton’s National Steel Car—which has been manufacturing freight rolling stock in Hamilton for more than a century. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. has placed an order for 1,000 new high-capacity grain cars from Hamilton-based National Steel Car. This is the second big contract for National Steel Car in recent months. Canadian National Railway Co. announced a similar order of 1,000 hopper cars back in May. Both companies have said that their orders were facilitated by federal government changes that encourage railways to make investments to avert service disruptions. Canadian Pacific is expecting to have more than 500 new grain hopper cars in service before the end of 2018 and expects to order a total of 5,900 of the grain hoppers over the next four years. The new cars were ordered to enable a complete removal of all low-capacity hoppers from the Canadian Pacific fleet. The new car design is shorter, lighter and can carry more grain than the cars that are set to be retired. The order comes as CP is working toward an 8,500-foot-long, power-on model for its dedicated grain trains. Under this model, CP’s high-efficiency dedicated trains will stretch from the current 112 cars, creating efficiency and capacity within the grain handling system. With the new shorter and lighter hopper-car fleet, CP will be able to fit 118 cars within the current 7,000 foot, 112-car unit train definition, adding approximately 16 percent more capacity per train. The grain hopper car contract comes hot on the heels of another for 350 centrebeam lumber cars. Hamilton East-Stoney Creek MP Bob Bratina welcomed the news saying, “ I am delighted that one of our oldest companies, National Steel Car, continues to thrive and provide employment to workers numbering in the thousands…drive along Nikola Tesla Boulevard on a work day and you will see the parking lot at Kenilworth Avenue filled to the brim.”
The two CN rail contracts are estimated to bring 550 additional jobs to the Hamilton facility’s assembly operations. The investment is made possible by the passage of the Transportation Modernization Act, which provided CP the certainty needed to place the order. CP will be the first Class 1 railway to receive hoppers as a result of the Act’s changes.