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.