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UPGRADES TO PROVINCIAL HOPPER CAR FLEET ANNOUNCED

Released on July 12, 2005

The Saskatchewan Grain Car Corporation (SGCC) is undertaking a $2 million refurbishment of its hopper car fleet and upgrade of the cars to a heavier weight carrying capacity.

"Given the vast distances to market, having an efficient grain transportation system is absolutely critical to the success of Saskatchewan farmers," Agriculture and Food Minister Mark Wartman said on behalf of Minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Grain Car Corporation Maynard Sonntag. "This investment will enhance Saskatchewan producers' competitiveness both domestically and internationally, and ensure that the SGCC cars are in excellent condition."

The $2 million investment will create approximately 13 person-years of employment over the next year. Work to be completed includes upgrading the carrying capacity of each hopper car from its current 90 tonnes to 100 tonnes and conducting repairs to ensure the fleet will meet its 50 year life span. The upgrade is scheduled to be completed by July 1st, 2006.

Four firms have been contracted to do the upgrade. Work will be done by Carlton Trail Railway at its Prince Albert facility, Rescar at its Saskatoon and Moose Jaw facilities, GATX at its facility in Moose Jaw and Frontline Railcar Repair Limited at its Rocanville and Ogema repair sites.

Increasing the weight capacity of the SGCC hopper cars will improve efficiency to Saskatchewan farmers by allowing shippers to load nine per cent more grain by weight into each hopper car. On a standard 100-car train, this could allow producers to ship an additional 1,000 tonnes of wheat per train. Wheat constitutes 60 per cent of grain exports by weight. Lower density grains will not be able to take advantage of the additional weight capacity of upgraded hopper cars.

"Ensuring our fleet is in top condition and increasing the efficiency of our hopper cars is yet another step we are taking to ensure that Saskatchewan producers have available to them an efficient and affordable grain handling and rail transportation system," Wartman added.

The Government of Saskatchewan originally purchased a fleet of 1,000 covered hopper cars in 1980 to help ensure that Saskatchewan producers have sufficient capacity to meet export demands. These hopper cars are supplied to producers free of charge for movements to port position. It is estimated that producers save $3 to $4 per tonne for every tonne shipped in SGCC hopper cars.

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For More Information, Contact:

Tim Shoulak
Saskatchewan Grain car Corporation
Regina
Phone: (306) 787-9245

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