04/07/2016 12:53 EDT | Updated 04/08/2017 01:12 EDT

Western rail and ports infrastructure to be under pressure, says report

MONTREAL — The Conference Board of Canada says accelerating volumes of commodities being shipped over the next decade will require big investments in both rail and marine infrastructure in Western Canada.

In a report released Thursday, the agency says annual tonnage of commodities shipped by rail will grow more quickly than in the past, rising rising 30 per cent from 200 million tonnes in 2011 to 260 million tonnes by 2025.

Wheat, forest products and energy are expected to be the main growth drivers.

The Conference Board says Canada's shifting trading patterns are putting additional pressure on the country's railways and ports to meet the growing demand for Canadian commodities.

It says rail corridors between the Prairies and the U.S. and from the Prairies to British Columbia are expected to be most affected and that Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) and Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) will need to continue to invest heavily in rail infrastructure to accommodate the increased demand.

The board says ports in Central and Eastern Canada have enough capacity, but that B.C. ports will need to be expanded to accommodate seven million more tonnes of agricultural products by 2025.


The Canadian Press