Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, good morning. I'm Greg Aziz, chairman and CEO of National Steel Car.
I'll whip through this as quickly as I can.
National Steel Car—I have up here a picture of our factory, located in Hamilton, Ontario—is the last remaining railcar manufacturer in Canada. We're also one of the largest in North America. That factory you're looking at is over two million square feet on 75 acres.
National Steel Car was founded in 1912 in Hamilton. We're celebrating our 100th anniversary this year. We employ 2,000 people. We've hired over 1,200 people in the last 18 months. We are the largest single-site railcar manufacturer in the western hemisphere. We're the only Canadian car builder. We have five production lines at this factory. We've invested over $350 million over the last 15 years in plant automation and advanced manufacturing technologies.
We're here to talk about the renewal of the Canadian grain car fleet. As Canadian farmers sell their grains into a competitive global market, one of the biggest impediments to their success is the inefficiency of our current railcar fleet for carrying grains. We believe the most effective way to enhance Canadian grain farmers' competitive position in world markets is to replace this current Canadian grain car fleet, which is obsolete. It's past its useful life. It is inefficient from a variety of standpoints. The design is outdated. Most of these cars were built in the early 1970s. At the time, the gross rail load allowed on North American rails was 263,000 pounds. That was raised in 1995 to 286,000 pounds. The gross rail load is the combined weight of the empty piece of equipment and what it's carrying. Some 20,000 pounds of additional grain can be carried in new modern equipment.
So the design is outdated. The carrying capacity is much lower than what is currently available in the marketplace. There are loading and unloading inefficiencies in the old fleet compared to what's available today. The dimensional envelope is outdated. There is a high cost of repairs and maintenance due to obsolete replacement parts.
I couldn't help but notice that your previous fellow who was testifying on behalf of CP Rail.... The reason the bears are getting killed is that the grain is leaking out of these old cars. That's how inefficient they are.
What National Steel Car is proposing is the new car that you see up on the screen, which is far more efficient.
One of my colleagues here will go through and talk about the efficiencies of the new equipment we're proposing, which was designed and patented by National Steel Car.