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Canadian Company Accelerating $33-million Railroad Upgrade


Canadian National (CN) announced it is accelerating work on the $33-million upgrading of its Whitehall Subdivision in Wisconsin to increase car-loading capacity and train velocity for the growing frac sand supply chains of Badger Mining Corporation, Preferred Sands of Wisconsin LLC, Atlas Resin Proppants LLC, and Taylor Frac LLC.

The improvement program will permit the transportation of heavier loaded frac sand freight cars weighing a maximum of 286,000 pounds, thereby increasing the volume per car, generating increased productivity for customer car fleets, and increasing train speed for CN.

CN will improve the 74-mile section of the Whitehall Subdivision between Wisconsin Rapids and Blair, Wis., in three years rather than four to obtain quicker customer gains. Work began in 2012 and the full program should be completed by December 2014.

Jean-Jacques Ruest, CN executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, said: “We are investing in increased rail capacity on the Whitehall Subdivision to help move more frac sand and to develop a more robust supply chain for our customers in Wisconsin to connect with the oil and gas shale basins in North America.“

Stephen Hart, executive vice-president of Berlin, Wis.-based Badger Mining, said: “We have significantly increased the frac sand production capacity at our Taylor, Wis., facility, and CN’s Whitehall Subdivision improvement will enhance our ability to efficiently move this production to both existing and new customers and markets. We are encouraged by this significant investment in our industry by CN. Badger has long understood the benefits gained from using rail to reach markets when compared to other modes of transportation: larger volumes, improved transit times, greater cost efficiencies and improved safety.”

Bryan Hurtado, director of Preferred Pipeline, which provides logistics services for Preferred Sands of Wisconsin, said: “Our company has worked closely with CN for several years to build our frac sand and logistics business. CN’s move to advance its rehabilitation of the line serving our plants and our partner suppliers’ plants will help us to more economically and efficiently move product.”

Dan Valiquette, executive vice-president of Atlas Resin Proppants of Taylor, Wis., said: “We appreciate CN’s sizable investment in the Whitehall Subdivision, which will improve the effective utilization of our rail fleet, expand our product distribution, and ultimately provide better service to our customers in key shale markets.”

Pat McConnell, chief executive officer of Taylor Frac of Green Lake, Wis., said: “Our company values its partnership with CN and sees the acceleration of its upgrading program for the Whitehall Subdivision as key to our plans to continue growing our market share.”