September 3 - For the novice, moving a 635 tonne reactor on a train might seem like putting an elephant on a skateboard.
But Claude Gagnon, account manager, CN Specialized Services can attest that it's a feat that CN is successfully conquering.
Late last month, a CN train left Oakville, Ontario for El Dorado, Kansas with the single heaviest
dimensional equipment ever loaded on a rail car on the CN network.
The reactor, or gas desulphurization equipment, is approximately 40 m long, 4.25 m wide and 6.5 m high and is headed on an estimated 20-day journey to an oil refinery.
"It took over a year to plan and prepare for a move of this kind, which requires incredible teamwork,"
emphasizes Gagnon. His team handles special initiatives for CN that demand extensive logistical planning and accommodating needs such as cranes, barges or trucks.
"We have the specialised knowledge and skills to undertake a project like this. But a massive job of this scale also involves a diversity of groups at CN, including Engineering, Operations, Transportation, Clearance Bureau, Service Design, Car Management, Mechanical, Customer Service and Marketing.
The sheer size of equipment meant that the company had to do its homework first, he explains.
For example, CN used a specialised Schnabel railcar that can coast at low speeds, move
both laterally and vertically in order to avoid obstacles and tackle wide curves. "We also had to upgrade our track just to accommodate the weight," he says.
Like any project of this scope, there have been some minor hiccups along the way. For instance, on the day of loading the train, CN had to remove hydro poles in the yard to accommodate the equipment. "But overall, everything is going smoothly and we can be proud as a team of this achievement!" Claude concludes.