MONTREAL - Canadian National Railway reported slightly weaker earnings and revenues in the first quarter but anticipates delivering strong growth for the year.

The Montreal-based railway, the country's largest, earned $974 million or $1.37 per diluted share, down from $1.01 billion or $1.42 per share a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, adjusted profits were $872 million or $1.23 per share, compared with $870 million or $1.22 per share in the first quarter of 2020.

Revenue for the three months ended March 31 were $3.54 billion, down from nearly $3.55 billion in the prior year.

CN Rail was expected to post $1.24 per share in net and adjusted profits on $3.58 billion of revenues, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

The railway, which is in the midst of a battle with rival CP Rail to purchase U.S. railway Kansas City Southern, says traffic volume increased five per cent in the quarter, prompting it to project double-digit adjusted diluted earnings growth for the year.