CN updates rail situation

January 18, 2018 – The extreme cold weather conditions in the Prairies and Western Canada have significantly reduced car velocity. As a result, we have been operating under reduced train-length restrictions between Toronto and Edmonton for several weeks. The cold operating conditions have also negatively impacted train operations in the U.S. Midwest, reducing overall fluidity of traffic in and out of the Prairies. Based on the weather forecast, we are projecting these restrictions will be lifted this week.

CN recognizes that terminal dwell at the west coast ports remains an issue. The increased dwell time has been caused, in part, by record container volumes and shortage in car supply. Timing of car supply has been an issue at times due to delayed trains caused by the extreme weather. There is a steady pipeline of rail cars to meet rail production at the west coast ports this week. GCT Deltaport will continue to truck to CN VIT to relieve congestion on the dock.

Carter turn times at Edmonton and Calgary have improved significantly, and ground counts within the terminals have decreased over the previous 7 days, allowing for increased fluidity in terminal operations. Average carter turn time at both terminals was within 45 minutes in the past 7 days.

Our other inland terminals are fluid. Average carter turn times at our Brampton Intermodal Terminal are within 45 minutes in January. The changes we made last year are generating very positive results.

CN is dedicated to improve our customer experience and we are making the necessary investments to deliver on this commitment. We will continue to work closely with our supply chain stakeholders to improve fluidity, and we will continue to focus on main line track infrastructure capacity and adjust our resources to meet the demands of your business.

Weather problems cause delays in Canada

January 16, 2018 – A perfect storm is brewing across Canada with weather issues hampering supply chains from coast to coast. With heavy on-dock activity, ship dockings in Vancouver have been delayed. Berth congestion and rail network issues were cited in several vessel bulletins, as were delays due to bad-weather issues in the Pacific. After heavy storms on the East Coast, and several Maritime provinces dealing with flooding, rain and washout effect after a January thaw, maritime activity has been impacted. In Halifax, some vessels were departing with reported 7-8 days’ delay due to accumulated delays from previous voyages and further delay because of the storm hitting the East Coast. Adding to the cumulative delays, container exam waits at CBSA on the West Coast Vancouver terminals are longer than usual, reported at 15 days and over. We will continue to monitor your shipments and advise of any delays.

Reminder that CP Vaughan Free time has now been reduced to 36 hours

January 9, 2018 – As previously reported to our customers, the free time available for import containers moving into CP Vaughan’s terminal is now only 36 hours (down from 48 hours). Although this was effective on January 1, 2018, CP has allowed for some flexibility until next week January 15, 2018. If you have any questions, please contact Canaan Transport for more details.

Manifest Processing at Montreal Longroom Delayed

January 2, 2018 – Manifest Processing at Montreal Longroom Delayed; Volumes to Increase as Chinese New Year Approaches

Forwarders receiving freight from Montreal are experiencing issues with the processing of manifests at Montreal (0395), which have been delayed due to short staffing at CBSA, as reported by CIFFA.

The result is storage fees incurred and missed deadlines/delivery delays for the clients.

As the mid-February Chinese New Year approaches, forwarders will need to expect and prepare for a very busy season.

The CBSA had planned for overtime on January 4 to normalize turnaround times. They have also indicated they will hire and train more employees for the processing of manifests.

Where possible, go on eHBL for your consolidated cargo. Where only paper re-manifesting is available, CBSA has previously advised against submitting large packets of documents. Preferentially, and when more staff is available, more packages of fewer documents can be processed quicker.

In terms of advisory and to mitigate further delays, CBSA noted that, if you have a manifest of perishable goods to submit, make sure that you indicate this on a “post it note” and place it on the manifests. Also, ask your runner to mention that the manifests are for perishable goods when the manifest is deposited at the counter. This will permit the manifests to be processed as a priority.

Massive storm is crippling Eastern USA and Canada

January 5, 2018 – Massive Winter Storm Slams East Coast, Affecting Shipping in All Modes

A massive winter storm roared into the East Coast on Thursday, threatening to dump as much as 18 inches of snow from the Carolinas to Maine [and north into the Atlantic provinces] and unleashing hurricane-force winds and flooding that closed schools and offices and halted transportation systems.

Our Montreal office will close early as a result of this blizzard. Many inbound and outbound shipments will be delayed and/or postponed to Monday. Please note that you will be contacted by our team about a revised schedule.

As of 5:00 pm ET yesterday, airlines had cancelled 4,020 flights in the U.S. An alert on the Halifax Stanfield International Airport website indicated that flights were being delayed and rescheduled.

Frozen switches caused a partial derailment of an Amtrak train in Georgia in the early hours of January 4.

The Port of Halifax suspended pilotage operations yesterday as of 10:45 am local time. Container terminal truck operations were suspended until 1:00 pm today.

Winter weather playing havoc on rail situation

Please see the following announcement from CN Rail:

CN is experiencing the prolonged effects of severe cold weather conditions in our Canadian and U.S. Midwest rail network. As part of CN’s winter preparedness and train operating plan, when cold temperatures fall below -25°C, to ensure safe train operations, train length restrictions go into effect. As a result, our trains operating in the corridors from Toronto and Chicago through to Prince Rupert and Vancouver have to be shorter trains, which means subsequently reduced weekly intermodal capacity. To support our winter train operating plan, we have moved all available crews and locomotives into key locations. We have also established critical situation rooms in Canada and the U.S. to drive optimized traffic control. We are committed to moving your goods as safely and quickly as possible. However, the weather outlook predicts this Arctic cold will persist for another 7 to 10 days in key areas.

Considering the reduction in train lengths and network capacity there will be a temporary impact to on-time train and terminal dwell performance. The following outlines further network and terminal specifics:

· As the flow of empties is moving into the ports, corresponding flows of loaded containers departing the ports are also reduced.

· Westbound traffic originating in Toronto and Montreal will have increased transit, and in-gate bookings are currently being reviewed to ensure that terminal fluidity is being maintained. We will send out a daily notice of the current reservation.

· Container yards (CYs) in Calgary and Edmonton expect increased congestion, therefore gate reservations will be reduced to a limited quantity this week with the potential for further reductions the following week, weather dependent. You are encouraged to make use of outside CY yards for the next 7 to 10 days.

· Based on high empty container ground count and to maintain terminal fluidity, the Chicago Harvey Terminal will be shutting truck gates for OSM empties for two days, from January 1, 00:01 to January 2, 23:59.

· A reduced number of loaded export containers will be accepted at our Saskatchewan Terminal.

· Detroit and Memphis terminals remain fluid and operational.

Additionally, the Port of Montreal has closed due to waterfront labour supply. As a result, we cannot accept in-gates for export loads or empties directed towards the Port of Montreal until January 2nd, when the port is scheduled to reopen.

For all import and export OSM Intermodal traffic moving, we encourage you to factor 48 hours of additional transit time into your planning. We are monitoring the situation very closely and will provide further updates in regards to flow of traffic to/from our terminals and ports. We will keep you updated as the situation evolves.

Cargo Preclearance for shipments between Canada and USA may happen by 2018

December 18, 2017 – The possibility of pre-clearing cargo for goods that move between Canada and the USA may happen by the end of 2018 according to the Canadian government. On December 13, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, highlighted the importance of Bill C-23: An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States receiving Royal Assent. This important milestone brings Canada and the United States closer to implementing the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine and Air Transport Preclearance between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America.

Once enabling regulations are in place, Canada and the United States can ratify the Agreement and start expanding preclearance operations to other modes of transportation – land, rail and marine – in addition to new locations in the air mode. The Agreement also opens the door to explore possibilities for cargo preclearance. The regulations for the air mode are expected to be in place by the end of 2018

Delays in the Port of Vancouver

December 13, 2017 – A very busy peak season, combined with the onset of winter weather in parts of Canada, has created severe impacts across the entire supply chain, especially for inbound intermodal marine containers.

The Port of Vancouver reports significant delays in vessel arrivals at Vancouver, which creates "bunching," wreaking havoc with crane and on-dock operational plans and contributing to increased dwell times. Implementation delays with GCT Deltaport’s new rail improvement project means some expected additional capacity will not be available until next year. The peak season – which this year started early and continues strong – has pushed inbound container numbers to unexpected highs, and is expected to be alleviated by the end of the year.

On December 11, the port’s Daily Import Rail On-dock Footage Summary reported total on-dock footage in the red, at 5 to 7 days’ dwell. But remember, those are averages and include local truck freight and containers trucked off dock to rail in as few as 1 or 2 days. Many customers are experiencing on-dock dwell times of up to two and, in some cases three, weeks for containers destined to inland terminals via rail. Once rail equipment is available and trains are moving, they face winter conditions – meaning shorter trains and delays due to freezing and snow.

Setting expectations with your customers is critical. Canaan Transport will continue to update the situation as required. The good news is that Canadian cargo volumes have been unexpectedly high this year and continue strong. The bad news is that we’re heading into the Christmas holiday season and winter weather with already congested terminals and longer-than-usual transit times.

Border delays and non duty collection on the horizon as CBSA promises job action in 2018

December 11, 2017 – The union representing Canada’s border officers is promising “disturbances” and demonstrations at international crossings after bitter contract negotiations have dragged on more than three years. Jean-Pierre Fortin, national president of the Customs and Immigration Union, said officers will likely also stop collecting taxes as a tactic to pressure the government if the dispute isn’t settled by early 2018. He said officers with the Canada Border Services Agency have been without a contract since June 20, 2014. Government representatives with the CBSA couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. He said officers could have a strike vote by March or April. Border enforcement is considered an essential service so most officers can’t actually go on strike. But Fortin said they could stop doing some duties. “One of the duties we will no longer be doing will be collecting taxes,” he said. “That duty is not part of ensuring national security.”

Frankfurt airport congestion continues

December 8, 2017
Forwarders are scrambling for capacity as industrial action continues to hobble uplift out of Frankfurt Airport. And some expect the aftershocks to linger well into December. Strikes by two of the German gateway’s handling agents have resulted in severe congestion, limiting cargo capacity during an already stretched period for air freight. We are continually exploring with our partners in Frankfurt alternative gateways, with expectations that the problem would persist at least to the middle of the month. There are a limited number of flights able to offer cargo uplift, however, due to the issues with the cargo handling agents and the backlog. We expect capacity to remain extremely tight this week and into the next few weeks, and we are always looking for capacity at other airports in Europe. Lengthy discussions are believed to be trying to prevent further action following the Union of Ground Handling Agents’ decision to strike from 23-24 November. Our partner in Frankfurt said the Asia and European markets were already disrupted by slot restrictions, full transatlantic flights, sea freight shortages and sales booms such as Black Friday. For the 15th consecutive month, demand growth (5.9%) outstripped capacity growth (3.7%) in October, according to figures from IATA. And though lower than the September’s 9.2% demand was still above the average annual growth rate of 3.2% over the past decade.