Canadian National Railway (CN) is investing $33m to upgrade its Whitehall Subdivision in Wisconsin, US to increase car-loading capacity and train velocity to support transportation of frac sand.
Work under the project started in 2012, and the entire programme is scheduled to be completed by December 2014.
To achieve faster customer gains, CN intends to complete the work of improving the 74-mile section of the Whitehall Subdivision between Wisconsin Rapids and Blair in three years instead of the planned four years.
The move will help in accommodating the ramped-up frac sand production of Badger Mining, Preferred Sands of Wisconsin, Atlas Resin Proppants and Taylor Frac.
The project will allow transportation of frac sand freight cars weighing 286,000lb, as well as increase the volume per car, generate increased productivity for customer car fleets and increase train speeds.
CN executive vice-president and chief marketing officer Jean-Jacques Ruest 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.”
Badger Mining executive vice president Stephen Hart said: “We have significantly increased the frac sand production capacity at our Taylor, Wisconsin facility and CN’s Whitehall Subdivision improvement will enhance our ability to efficiently move this production to both existing and new customers and markets.”
Oil and gas industries use frac sand in the hydraulic fracturing process to hold shale fractures open, and let natural gas and oil flow out.