Canada’s two main railways make pact on Vancouver Port ops

VANCOUVER, (Oct. 19, 2004) — Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway have agreed to implement a series of co-production plans which they say will make rail operations more efficient for port of Vancouver freight traffic.

The companies said in a press release that the agreements increase capacity on key sections of track in the Vancouver area and will “improve the fluidity of rail operations over existing infrastructure.”

The plan includes:

improved access for CPR to intermodal facilities at Fraser Surrey Docks using a shorter route over CN’s main line; reciprocal access to the north and south shores, with CPR potash trains having direct access to Neptune Terminals and CN sulphur trains having direct access to Pacific Coast Terminals;

There will also be an option for CPR to operate longer, heavier trains to Vancouver’s north shore under existing access agreements; a reciprocal interchange at CN’s Thornton Yard and CPR’s Coquitlam Yard that replaces a less-efficient interchange arrangement; as well as further interchange enhancements for north shore freight traffic that include BC Rail traffic.

Last week the director of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association said port congestion is a worldwide phenomenon, with Canadian west coast terminals experiencing some of the worst strain.

George Kuhn pointed the finger at Canada’s two railways, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, for much of the port congestion. He told Canadian Press that the railroads are operating with a 19th century mentality by not being able to clear immense traffic and container buildup, or provide enough rolling capacity.

But CN spokesperson Mark Hallman said that the problems are more complex, and all parties — steamship companies, forwarders, ports, and terminals — play a role.

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