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Composite Train Grading

Farmers in central Alberta, working together with the benefit of new software, are now able to build unit trains of producer cars, with the same quality of grain sourced from different farms.

Composite train grading is a new feature available to these Alberta producers using the shortline Battle River Railway that runs over an 80 kilometre stretch of former CN Rail line between Alliance and Camrose, Alta.

While for decades farmers have shipped grain based on the quality and grade produced on their own farms, a system used by the West Central Road and Rail (WCRR) at Eston, Sask., has been adopted by BRR says Ken Eshpeter, a farmer at Daysland southeast of Edmonton and chairman of the BRR board. Individual farmers, using the short line rail, who know the quality and grade of their grain, can load their respective cars, and those cars are collected to form a unit train of the same quality and grade, to be shipped for export.

“Composite train grading will allow BRR users to load their own producer cars and then organize those individual cars into composite multiple car train units,” says Eshpeter. These train units will be carefully organized based on customer orders, quality samples of each individual load, direct loading of rail cars, and identity-preservation of computer-based (virtual) blended grain to optimize value.

“Say, for example, there is an order or opportunity through the board to ship No. 2 grade, 13 per cent protein wheat,” says Eshpeter. “Our marketing manager can send out a message to producer shareholders, or others using the rail line, saying there is this opportunity, the cars will be available for loading at different sidings on certain dates. Farmers need to know the quality and grade of grain they have in the bin, and, if it matches, they can load one or two cars or whatever they have.

“The grain may come from 20 different farms, but as long as it has the same grade and quality, it can be loaded and then those cars are collected along the line to form a unit train of the same quality and grade. We feel this will be a important service to producers using the line.”

The 80 kilometre stretch of former CN Rail line begins at Alliance and runs north west through the communities of Galahad, Forestburg, Heisler, Rosalind, and Kelsey to Camrose, where it joins the active CN line.

The Forestburg and Alliance Seed Cleaning Plants and Prairie Hall Elevator will provide the “store front” to describe and promote composite grading to their customers. The Canadian Wheat Board, Canadian Grain Commission and CN Rail will work with BRR’s marketing manager to organize trains and other producer cars, and Prince Rupert Terminal operators will work with BRR to receive and unload grain hauled on BRR.

FormoreinformationonBRRorcomposite traingradingcontacttheBRRofficein Forestburgat(780)582-2493

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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