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CPR VP calls for greater collaboration to address intermodal delays

CALGARY, Alta. -- CPR executive vice president Fred Green has responded to suggestions that CPR is doing little to...

CALGARY, Alta. — CPR executive vice president Fred Green has responded to suggestions that CPR is doing little to resolve delays in its western intermodal network, pointing to capacity increases and calling for greater cooperation with industry stakeholders.

Green said the Vancouver Gateway has experienced significant double-digit growth in container shipments in the first quarter of 2004 compared to the first quarter of 2003.

“This sudden growth rate was unexpected and mostly unplanned by shipping lines, port and terminal operators. CPR has successfully managed intermodal growth rates of 6-7% during each of the past 5 years. CPR cannot be expected to absorb unplanned intermodal volume increases on the perceived basis of infinite capacity on our network, particularly when other commodities such as grain, coal and fertilizer are experiencing strong year-over-year growth rates,” Green said in a letter to the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association.

Green says that while the railroad acknowledges customers’ desire to move the massive unplanned growth in containers, rail users such as farmers, coal, potash and sulphur producers as well as other shippers also wish to grow.

He adds that CPR has responded to the growth with investments to its infrastructure. The railway took early delivery of its 2004 locomotive purchases in 2003, has advanced its 2005 locomotives to 2004 and leased an additional 25 locomotives due later this year. CPR is also integrating 5500 new 53-foot doublestack well cars representing 11000 platforms, running longer and heavier trains, hiring additional crews and continuing to invest in maintenance and specific track additions to increase fluidity on our network, Green pointed out.

“We spent approximately $700 million dollars on physical plant in 2003 and will spend approximately $675 million in 2004. In addition, CPR senior management again met with key POV stakeholders in March to discuss opportunities and action plans to address short term and long growth. This dialogue is ongoing,” Green said.

He also appealed to supply chain stakeholders to boost collaboration.

“CPR, customers and other members of the transportation logistics supply chain must work more collaboratively to develop agreed upon forecast demand that can translate into strategies for infrastructure investment,” he said.

He added that some progress in this area was made at the meeting with POV stakeholders in March where CPR established a number of initiatives. As importantly, he said, governments need to see a united group of interests who, together with governments at all levels, can effectively address the infrastructure deficit.

“An important outcome will be the need for a stable regulatory climate. CPR cannot be expected to make major capacity investments in the face of potential regulatory change such as forced access,” Green said.

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