CN Rail reported a continued slowdown in grain movement for the month of May as farmers' focus shifted to seeding.

David Przednowek,  the assistant vice president of grain for CN Rail says it's not a surprise adding that the majority of grain has already moved through the system.

He notes something that remains a concern is the wildfire situation.

"The last major disruption that CN had to its rail operations was in the period May 18 through 22 on the Slave Lake subdivision, up in northern Alberta. We've also been restricted to nighttime operations in some areas by provincial authorities as a consequence of the impact of the extreme fire risks."

He says they've been working with local authorities and have had crews out trying to help fight the fires where they can.

When it comes to ongoing and future challenges for the railways, Przednowek says the new provisions around rail labor are going to have an impact on not just the company itself, but grain movement in general.

He says the government's new work-rest rules for rail transportation, combined with increased sick time and Ottawa's proposed interswitching changes are concerning.

"Those things combined, when you have a slower rail network that means less grain moving at the peak, not more grain moving. So, you know, people need to consider the unanticipated consequences of some of these changes in regulations here, particularly extended interswitching, and understand that they have real impacts."

He says that based on the modeling CN did around those impacts, CN will need to hire hundreds more people just to do the same job they are doing. 

Przednowek says they've been working on trying to hire more staff, but that's been difficult in itself in what is a challenging and very tight job market.

To hear Glenda-Lee's conversation with David Przednowek click on the link below.