That was up 2% from the prior record set in 2014-15, and tonnage was 7% higher than the prior three-year average, according to the Montreal-based operator.
CN set six new monthly tonnage records between September and March, when grain prices are highest.
"Through innovation, collaboration and improved communication with our supply chain partners, CN moved more grain in a single crop year than ever before," said Doug MacDonald, CN vice president of bulk. "We did this by further developing our supply chain ingenuity with our partners to meet demand, resulting in improvements in the use of equipment and better than ever efficiencies in size of trains."
The railroad introduced 200-car grain trains, to improve efficiency and turn equipment back to the Prairies faster. It expanded its use of distributed power and air repeater cars to extend train length and improve train braking during extreme weather winter months
"CN expanded commercial agreements that guarantee car supply in advance to our customers both large and small,” said MacDonald. “This commercially-driven innovation includes reciprocal penalties which drive accountability for both shippers and CN, and allows our customers to make market-based decisions."
Customers in the recent crop year secured approximately 70% of CN's car supply in advance under commercial agreements subject to car commitment guarantees.
CN said grain companies continue to invest in the supply chain with the construction of nine new country elevators and another seven announced with completion dates in the next 18 months.
More rail capacity is needed in Vancouver, it added, to meet forecasted demand driven by new and ongoing investment in export terminals.
Said MacDonald, "Vancouver is a vital trade-oriented Canadian gateway and should be a top investment priority for the government's new national transportation corridor infrastructure fund."
Then railroad said that looking ahead to 2017-18, it will continue to look for opportunities to bring even more efficiency to the grain transportation network.