Volume Up, Delays Down at Western Canada Ports

Volumes are rising at western Canadian ports as the protracted labour dispute continues to disrupt ports along the US west coast and present an opportunity for Canadian ports to grow.

According to the Journal of Commerce, Canadian intermodal volume rose 7.1 percent year-over-year in the first 39 weeks of this year.

In early September, DP World Vancouver again began accepting U.S.-bound containers intended for direct transfer to rail. The surge of import container traffic through Vancouver added to the momentum the port had created in attracting U.S.-bound cargo since last year. But traffic growth slowed in August, rising 0.2 percent year-over-year in August and falling 7 percent from July, according to Port Metro Vancouver statistics.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and U.S. West Coast waterfront employers have kept their repeatedly stated pledge to “keep cargo moving” despite the lack of a contract. But many shippers are still hedging by diverting shipments through western Canadian and U.S. East Coast ports.

Shippers importing through Prince Rupert are also experiencing fewer delays than they did a few months ago, after the surge of cargo kept them waiting generally more than a week extra for goods to be loaded onto rail August and early September.  Ruth Snowden, Executive Eirector of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association said ” it now takes two to three days to move imports from the Fairview Container Terminal at Prince Rupert to the Canadian National Railway line, instead of 10 days as experienced in late summer”.

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