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‘If anybody in their right mind thinks we’re going to take trucks off the highways … they’re dreaming’ Intermodal deals must be based on market: Bradley

WINDSOR, Ont. - So-called intermodal partnerships that shift freight from one mode of transportation to another are nothing but a "smokescreen" when they aren't working to serve the best interests of ...



WINDSOR, Ont. – So-called intermodal partnerships that shift freight from one mode of transportation to another are nothing but a “smokescreen” when they aren’t working to serve the best interests of customers, says David Bradley.

But that’s what some policymakers refer to when they suggest forcing a shift by increasing the costs of trucking, the Canadian Trucking Alliance CEO said during a presentation to the annual National Transportation Week convention in Windsor, Ont.

“If anybody in their right mind thinks we’re going to take the trucks off the highways or out of the city centers (with intermodal traffic), they’re dreaming in Technicolor,” he added. Freight can’t be zapped – like in a Star Trek transporter – from one place to another. “Eventually the door-to-door service requires trucks.”

Bradley said the environmental argument is another “bugaboo” used in such arguments, particularly when one mode of transportation is touted as being more environmentally sound than another. As a member of the transportation sector advisory group to Canada’s commitment on the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gases, Bradley said an analysis showed, “there was really no prospect for reducing emissions from modal shift.” But forcing such a shift would result in “enormous cost to the economy.” The alternative is to work towards “making each mode as environmentally friendly” as possible, he said.

However, that doesn’t mean the trucking industry won’t partner with other modes of transportation, Bradley said.

Politicians may be just catching up to the concept, but the terms integration and partnership have been around the transportation industry for “light years”, he noted.

Just-In-Time inventory and quick response in the supply chain, “already require a high degree of integration, production drives linehaul freight transportation, retail sales drive local pick up and delivery, E-commerce is going to drive that process even more and more,” he said.

But intermodal transportation partnerships are based on market forces and solid business judgment, and they have to be complementary, he added. “To be efficient, it has to be a true partnership, it can’t be working in competition.”

Bradley pointed to Canadian Pacific Railway’s new Expressway truck-on-train service in eastern Canada. The determining factor, said Bradley, is efficiency; If such a service is better, cheaper or moves freight as well as a truck, then shipments will move over rail, water or air, he said.

Earlier, Expressway director Alan Parry told delegates Expressway has a 95 per cent on-time record, with quick on-and-off-loading at dedicated 24-hour terminals and preferential work rules to move trains faster. n


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