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A Canadian Pacific Rail train hauling grain passes through Calgary on May 1, 2014.

Jeff McIntosh/CP

Canada’s two largest railways moved a record 15.4 million tonnes of grain in the final three months of 2019.

Calgary-based Canadian Pacific set a new quarterly record by moving 7.9 million tonnes of grain and grain products. That’s up from 7.5 million tonnes a year earlier and 100,000 tonnes more than Canadian National Railway’s shipment record in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Montreal-based CN says it moved 7.5 million tonnes over the last three months. That included an all-time monthly record of 2.79 million tonnes in October and the second best December on record despite a work stoppage.

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CP Rail says it set a company monthly record in November by moving 2.74 million tonnes, while October was its second-best month at 2.66 million tonnes and it had its best December with 2.5 million tonnes.

As of Dec. 31, CP Rail moved 12.17 million tonnes of grain for the 2019-2020 crop year, up 2.1 per cent from the prior year.

The 2019 calendar year, which includes two crop years, CP Rail moved a record 27 million tonnes of grain, while CN moved 26.6 million tonnes, compared with 26.8 million set in 2018.

Canada’s second-largest railway had more than 2,170 new high-capacity hopper cars that can carry 44 per cent more grain and plans to have 3,300 by the end of 2020. The company plans to spend about $500 million on acquiring 5,900 new hopper cars over four years.

“2019 has been a banner year for CP and the Canadian grain supply chain despite the challenging economic and environmental conditions,” said Joan Hardy, CP’s vice-president sales and marketing, grain and fertilizers.

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