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Publisher’s Comment: CN BIT Delay Times are Seriously Ridiculous

Those of you who read my column (there are some of you out there, right?) know that I prefer to take a somewhat light-hearted approach. Call it my positive attitude or you can put it down to watching ...



Those of you who read my column (there are some of you out there, right?) know that I prefer to take a somewhat light-hearted approach. Call it my positive attitude or you can put it down to watching far too many Seinfeld episodes.

But this month, I have to put my “brilliant” sense of humour on hold. I need to be serious for a few moments.

There’s an important issue that affects the future of our industry that I must address: the ridiculous delay times at some of our intermodal yards.

While the shenanigans that took place recently at the CN Intermodal Yard in Brampton, Ont. reminded me of watching Three Stooges episodes, this is no laughing matter.

Owner/operators had every right to be furious with a system that had gotten so bad that they could retrieve just one container from the yard per day at a flat rate of about $200.

I’m no math genius but I do know that people who have payments to make on $100,000 tractors can’t survive on $200 a day.

Now, I do know that after weeks of trucker protests and a lot of threats and finger pointing, the delays at the CN Intermodal Yard have been resolved with wait times down to a reasonable half hour.

And I appreciate that drivers, who were very critical of CN just a few weeks ago, are now very happy with how things are running.

I admit, my memory is nowhere near as brilliant as my sense of humour, but I do recall CN making such promises before.

Just a year-and-a-half ago, when they instituted a reservation system at the same Brampton yard in response to a similar drivers’ protest, they promised that would be the end of needless delays.

We should not be satisfied with short-term solutions that just get intermodal freight moving better for now, for this particular yard.

The transportation industry – and that means everyone from the shippers, marine container lines and railways to the cartage companies, their drivers and owner/operators – must commit itself to answering the tough questions that will ensure we have the efficient transfer of cargo between modes that we need for the future. Questions such as: Should cartage companies and receivers be operating on weekends to handle incoming container traffic, and can our 20-year intermodal infrastructure be realistically expected to handle the increase in freight volumes expected over the next decade?

Now, just because I’ve written a serious column, don’t expect me to come up with the answers.

I’m just the funny man.

– Rob Wilkins is the publisher of Truck News and can be reached at 416-442-2097, or rwilkins@trucknews.com

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