These projects fall into a very broad range of commodity and product areas, including chemicals and plastics, agricultural, tire manufacturing and metals. In this environment, NS has a unique opportunity to divert shipments from highway to rail.
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This opportunity extends past our intermodal franchise to include general merchandise traffic such as paper, forest, and food-related products. In energy markets, we expect continued year-over-year growth in frac sand. We also expect growth in construction-related products like aggregates, lumber, and cement. Our primary challenges revolve around coal, declines in crude oil and natural gas liquids due to pipeline activity, and reduced automotive production.
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Creel: We are keeping a close eye on crude and broader energy-related markets, including frac sand. Recent signs point to strengthening, and we are prepared to execute on that should it come to pass. The key, however, is executing in a disciplined manner that protects existing service for our other customers. More broadly speaking, people are what make this business run. The CP family needs to operate at a high level for the company to operate at a high level, plain and simple. We have made a lot of progress building good relationships with our unions and negotiating agreements that are good for our employees, our shareholders and our customers.
These progressive agreements give our employees better wages and benefits while giving our customers confidence in our ability to consistently provide our service. We will need to continue building bridges to our employees and making our railroad an even better place to work in and beyond. I am excited about the future. As a team of 12,, we are putting more dots on the map, expanding our reach and working with current and potential customers to sustainably grow our business and theirs.
Fritz: Keeping up with accelerating technology advances can be challenging as it changes consumer behavior, supply chains and traditional ways of doing business. Innovation and technology are core Union Pacific business strategies. Beyond the walls of the research and development lab, cross-functional teams of technical and nontechnical employees are finding new ways to improve safety, service and efficiency. One of our teams developed Machine Vision, a train-sized erector-set-like portal with powerful lasers and high-performing cameras that receive thousands of detailed scans of trains passing at 70 mph.
The system looks for anomalies that could derail a train such as cracked brake beams or shifted loads. Remote inspectors analyze 3D train images and determine if discrepancies should be repaired at the next siding or rail yard. We continue enhancing the system to help us address issues before accidents occur.
Drones and ultrasonic rail tests also make train and track inspections more effective and allow craft professionals to spend more time on high-value work. Union Pacific is investing in hundreds of innovative projects — some homegrown and others involving Silicon Valley. We are exploring opportunities touching different parts of our business through a partnership with Plug and Play, a startup accelerator providing emerging technology companies with seed money, mentoring and connections to large companies.
Some of our most exciting possibilities involve artificial intelligence software to provide real-time customer solutions and big data analytics using millions of external variables for more predictive forecasting models. Abraham Lincoln once said the best way to predict the future is to create it. Today, innovation and technology are tools helping Union Pacific build the railroad of the future.
Ice: One of the challenges that continues to face the rail industry and the larger economy is the length and difficulty of permitting new infrastructure. Permitting serves a good purpose, but it is a process that is too easily leveraged as a tool for those wanting to delay or stop a project.
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If we expect the economy to continue to grow, we must be able to build the infrastructure to handle that growth. We are hopeful that permitting reform efforts are successful in preserving the integrity of the review while allowing projects that meet the appropriate criteria to proceed on a reasonable timeline. Jobin: We feel very good about the future and look forward to next year. We are committed to provide superior service to our customers, and with the volume growth momentum still ahead of us, we see good growth opportunity.
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A major focus as we move into is putting more of our resources in place: the people, the equipment and the capital investments. In this strong North American economy, we are hiring hundreds of new employees, particularly in Western Canada, and moving on our capital investments to meet our commitments to safety, service and efficiency. We will continue to work closely with our supply chain partners to ensure their needs are met and CN remains committed to investing to support our business for the long term.
Finally, CN will continue with our intensive PTC installation plan and remain engaged in ongoing discussions about the railway regulatory environments in the United States and Canada. Ottensmeyer: Although we are well-positioned for growth in , the abundant supply of natural gas in the United States has made certain unregulated coal burning power plants less competitive over time.
As a result, we expect to see a reduction in coal shipments to one key power plant on our network in With that said, we believe that plentiful natural gas and the resulting opportunity to grow our chemicals franchise will more than offset any reduction to our coal carloads. We also acknowledge that the weakness in the Mexican peso seen in and has been a contributing headwind to growth in our Mexico intermodal franchise. Although we expect our Intermodal business in Mexico to grow in , we remain conscientious of the possibility of continued impacts in future years.
We see firsthand the importance of trade between these two countries, as export grain is our largest southbound cross-border commodity. Certainly, if the U. Make Offer -. Resume making your offer , if the page does not update immediately.
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