The power of Poseidon: CN's firefighting railcar

The CNR (TSX:CNR) proof of concept, and its first firefighting railcar, was Poseidon. It's a 66-foot bulkhead flat railcar that's equipped with two 3,500-gallon tanks, three water pumps, fire hoses and a diesel-electric generator.

Two tank railcars, each with a capacity of nearly 21,000 gallons, are attached to either side of the flat railcar. The railcar can safely emit various forms of fire prevention and suppression substances.

Like the new cars, Poseidon is operated by specially trained employees and contractors.

The use of Poseidon is integral to help avoid or eliminate potential catastrophes, such as the Lac-Megantic rail disaster in July 2013, the Hinton train collision in February 1986 or the Ruel, ON derailment in February 2015, when 1.7 million litres of petroleum crude was released prompting almost a week of fires caused by the crash.

(Some experts shorten the firm's acronym to CN.)

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Two more railcars will now fight fires and help with catastrophic events

Like Poseidon, the latest additions to CN's firefighting fleet stick with the mythological associations by being named Trident and Neptune. These railcars are similar in design to Poseidon but with key improvements, such as additional 360-degree cameras placed at both ends for real-time visibility.

Other new features include a separate 20-foot container to hold pumps, hoses and generators, as well as a 40-foot container with a built-in staircase and crow’s nest. The crow’s nest has two additional water canons, providing crews with greater visibility.

The company states it works closely with federal, provincial and municipal wildfire management authorities, along with Indigenous communities, to strategically deploy these assets.

CN (TSX:CNR) transports approximately 300 million tons of natural resources, manufactured products and finished goods throughout North America every year with its nearly 20,000-mile rail network.

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CN continues to provide strong future earnings potential

This recent announcement from CN (TSX:CNR) comes at a time when many investors are examining the core investment portfolio holdings and asking: Does this company offer future earnings potential? In 2023, there were concerns after CN (TSX:CNR) reported net income fell by 12% to $1.17 billion in the second of 2023.

A statement in the earnings release from CEO and President of CN (TSX:CNR), Tracy Robinson, highlighted the company's focus: "Our goal to accelerate sustainable, profitable growth through 2026 and beyond remains on track."

While profitability has remained somewhat volatile, shares of CN (TSX:CNR) are still trading in the high $160 price point — up from an annual low of just over $143 per share. As such, most experts continue to be bullish on this company. These opinions are based on the idea that the company has a valuable asset in its rail network and continues to be a strong predictor for the country's overall economic health. While there is some concern about economic downturns and competition in the industry, many experts believe that CNR has the potential to continue growing its dividends and delivering strong returns for investors.

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What can investors and those saving for retirement take from this?

Investors looking for a well-established company with a robust management team dedicated to long-term growth should consider a stake in CN (TSX:CNR). Most experts consider current share prices at fair value and given its invaluable position as Canada's rail network and domestic supply chain connection, most experts believe CN is poised to thrive in the years ahead. As such, it's widely believed that CNR will continue to grow its dividends and deliver strong returns for investors.

To invest in CN or other blue-chip firms, learn [how to invest in stocks] or open a discount brokerage account and start saving fees and earning returns through stock and exchange-traded fund purchases.

Good options include:

— with files from Romana King

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Nicholas completed his master's in journalism and communications at Western University. Since then, he's worked as a reporter at the Financial Post, Healthing.ca, Sustainable Biz Canada and more. Aside from reporting, he also has experience in web production, social media management, photography and video production. His work can also be found in the Toronto Star, Yahoo Finance Canada, Electric Autonomy Canada and Exclaim among others.

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