CPR bulks up Iron Highway service between Montreal and Toronto

MONTREAL (May 28) — A day after its chief rival said it planned to compete for intermodal freight between Montreal and Toronto, Canadian Pacific Railway announced that it was tripling capacity on its Iron Highway service between the two cities.

The CPR said it had ordered 240 new specialized platforms that can carry 60 highway trailers each. There will be two 60-trailer trains each day in each direction. The service, operated as a pilot program since 1996 by CPR¹s St. Lawrence & Hudson subsidiary, will be marketed under the name “Expressway.”

The railway also plans to open a new terminal this summer in Milton, Ont., west of Toronto. Another new terminal will subsequently open in Montreal, and a third in Detroit by the end of the year.

“We are very excited about future development possibilities, including service to Chicago as well as the Northeastern United States,” said Jacques Cote, president of StL&H.

The Toronto and Montreal centres will replace existing facilities while the opening of the Detroit terminal will mark extension of the service west of Toronto for the first time.

CPR has tried to sell the roll on/roll off intermodal service to truckers as an alternative to inter-city road hauls in corridors where railways had not previously been contenders for time-sensitive shipments. The 24 train departures each week between Toronto and Montreal have a 95% on-time performance average, CPR said.

Truckers can make reservations for the next available train departure by phone, fax or the Internet, with terminal check-in via hand-held computers like the ones used at some airport car-rental lots.

Yesterday, Canadian National said will invest $13 million to buy dual-mode RoadRailer trailers from Wabash National and use them to compete with truckers for business in the Toronto-Montreal corridor.

CN is acquiring 200 RoadRailer Mark V highway trailers and 130 RoadRailer railroad bogies for daily Toronto-Montreal service starting in early August. The railroad plans to operate dedicated terminals in both cities.

Trains of 60 RoadRailer units will depart at 9 p.m. and arrive the next morning at 5 a.m. Train length will increase as demand warrants, CN said. RoadRailer trains can accommodate up to 125 semi-trailers.

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