Wednesday, 12 March 2014

More About the Love/Hate Relationship with Intermodal Transportation

One more reason why I am glad to be out and no longer working in this industry...

CN Rail says trucker strike at Vancouver port causing forestry logjam

Scott Deveau - March 12, 2014 | Last Updated: Mar 12 12:28 PM ET

CN said the lumber backlog at the port is preventing it from transferring its shipments at so-called “stuffing facilities” in Vancouver where the lumber is transferred from CN’s railcars to trucks and then shipped to the port.

Canadian National Railway Co. has issued a notice to its forestry customers that it is unable to take all of their lumber shipments because of the backlog that is building at container terminals at Port Metro Vancouver due to the ongoing trucker strike there.

The country’s largest railway said the logjam at the port is preventing it from transferring its forestry shipments at so-called “stuffing facilities” in Vancouver where forestry products, mainly pulp, is transferred from CN’s railcars to trucks and then shipped to the port.

Jim Feeny, CN spokesman, said the railway is still accepting forestry shipments to other ports elsewhere, and to some of the port’s stuffing facilities are still moving forestry products. But, generally, he said the strike has caused a logjam for forestry products.

Mr. Feeny said the issues at the stuffing facilities were also affecting some grain shipments. But he said it was only the grain shipments that go into the stuffing facilities that are being affected, not the ones that go directly by rail to the export terminals in Vancouver, which make up the “vast majority” of its grain shipments.

“Because of the delays due to picket lines, product was backing up. So, what we’re doing is today we’re working with the stuffing facilities and we’re issuing permits, or basically exceptions to the embargo, for folks that still have space and where product is still moving,” he said.

Mr. Feeny said the railway expected the issues to continue until the labour situation is resolved.

The troubles at the Port Metro Vancouver add to what has been a difficult winter for the country’s largest railways whose shipments have been slowed by harsh winter weather.

That comes at time when grain shippers have been complaining about a lack of rail capacity to move a record harvest to West Coast ports.

The federal government ordered both CN and its smaller rival, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., to each move at least 500,000 tonnes of grain, or 5,500 rail cars, a week, or risk fines of up to $100,000 a day.

The striking truckers at Port Metro Vancouver are protesting the long lines, wait times, and penalties charged there for late or missed pickups, as well as other conditions.

Roughly 1,400 non-unionized truckers, represented by the United Truckers Association, walked off the job Feb. 26. The protestors were joined by roughly 400 unionized truckers, represented by Unifor, who walked off the job Monday morning.

The Port Metro Vancouver said the strike is restricting container movements at the port by truckers to about 10% of their original traffic, and costing roughly $885-million a week.

The Western Canadian Shippers’ Coalition warned Tuesday that the strike and the financial demands the truckers are making at the port has many of its members rethinking where and how they ship their goods.

“Every one of our companies [is] looking into either changing from containers to breakbulk, using a different port or both. This news will force them to actually make those decisions,” said Ian May, WCSC chairman, in a statement.

Mr. May noted that 80% of the overall export container moves are forestry products at the port.

He added that a substantial portion of the current market would go elsewhere with their shipments, and he warned that could have a lasting impact on the Port Metro Vancouver.

“In order to secure space on vessels, or at a different port, it is necessary to make long-term volume commitments that lock in the traffic for up to 12 months or more,” he said.

And now... the final exam question.
A multiple choice question.

Do you think that...

Customers are very understanding and patiently waiting for this dispute to end?

CNR is not charging customers for rail car demurrage and terminal storage?

The Port of Vancouver terminals are not charging their storage charges on marine containers that have not been picked up within the limited free time?

Ocean carriers are not charging their demurrage on containers that are tied up in the port terminals.

Cargo interests are simply going to quietly pay whatever is demanded of them because there is nothing that can be done?

All of the above

None of the above

Time's up!

My sympathies go out to the hapless intermodal transportation customer service personnel who will have to listen to the customers, talk to various players and then try to handle these problems they powerless to do anything to resolve. 

Let's just see if common sense and reason prevails... but I'm not holding my breath waiting.

The Oddblock Station Agent

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