Michael Angell, Associate Editor
US and Canadian shippers are bracing for longer rail delays as Canada’s two Class I railroads slow their train speeds and share a single track to the Port of Vancouver in the wake of a wildfire that closed one of two tracks that run through British Columbia.
Vancouver, Canada’s busiest port, said intermodal customers should expect delays of more than a week in getting containers off the port’s marine terminals. Last Thursday, Vancouver was warning of five- to seven-day delays for intermodal customers.
The delays come as Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) are routing traffic to and from Vancouver over a 100-mile portion of CP-owned track known as the Thompson subdivision that reopened to regular service July 5. CN’s Ashcroft subdivision track that connects to Vancouver remains out of service, according to a customer advisory from Hapag-Lloyd, which added that a timeline for possible repairs on the track have not yet been announced. CN has not said whether the track sustained damage in the fire.
Both railroads typically run up to 60 trains daily over the two tracks.
Due to the backlog of containers waiting to get on the rails, “port terminals in Vancouver remain congested and are working at limited capacity,” Hapag-Lloyd’s advisory said. Neither CN nor CP were available for comment.
In a Tuesday statement, the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) said it understood the railroads would be expediting railcar units to marine terminals as dwell times for imports “are well above expected levels.”
“The unfortunate situation around the fires has added to the fragility, complications and delays already present in the Canadian supply chain today, and that we can ill afford,” CIFFA said