customs brokerage, freight forwarding and truck transportation

Canadian West Coast Ports -- Expect Ongoing Delays to Operations

: Transport

Canadian West Coast Ports -- Expect Ongoing Delays to Operations 2017-09-12

Forwarders and their customers can expect ongoing delays and increased dwell times at Canadian west coast ports for the next several weeks. Volumes are high. Container stacks are growing higher at terminals and service levels are certainly not where they should be.

There is a combination of contributing factors and, while investments are being made to alleviate congestion in the system, these efforts may not bear fruit as quickly as needed. In the meantime, dwell times on the docks at Deltaport and Prince Rupert are edging up to 6 to 7 days in many cases, while problems with rail transit can add an additional and unexpected number of days to inland terminals. Frustrations grow.

CN, addressing the situation at Vancouver's Deltaport, said it recognizes that terminal dwell has increased since July and the level of service is not where it needs to be. The increased dwell time has been caused by a combination of factors:

  • Operational constraints at Deltaport caused by the DREP project, resulting in lower rail production
  • Fluctuating rail production targets
  • Crane failures at the terminal
  • Shortage in car supply

CN informed CIFFA that its commitment to GCT has been to truck to its Vancouver Intermodal Terminal (VIT) to make up the deficit in production caused by the DREP project.

"We trucked over 245,000' to VIT in the past two months, which is significantly more than what we should have based on the plan. However, when we compound our supply issues with GCT's crane failures and fluctuating production targets, we have collectively missed the target. Moving forward, we have a collective plan in place to increase fluidity at the terminal. To compensate for the shortfall in rail production, CN has committed to GCT that we will increase the number of units trucked to VIT. Trucking is based on the expected rail production and forecasted vessel discharge. If we can achieve our rail and truck targets, we should clear the current backlog within 2-3 weeks and be back to normal operating conditions," said CN's Robert Bassett, Market Manager & Business Development, Intermodal, International.

In Prince Rupert, a hazardous incident over the Labour Day weekend in September saw an evacuation at the terminal and a lost day of operations. This, combined with the public holiday on September 4, resulted in higher-than-normal dwell times.

DP World Prince Rupert told CIFFA it has successfully completed the marine portion of the Phase 2 North expansion, which was the largest and most complicated part of the terminal expansion.

The full increased capacity to 1,350,000 TEU is currently being released with the commissioning of new equipment and rail yard, which will be completed by mid-October.

"Dwell times are expected to be higher than normal until the middle of this month and will then start decreasing, returning to normal by mid-October. This is a completely temporary situation; we are grateful for your patience as we deliver this important project in a safe and timely manner that will result in improved performance for Prince Rupert customers," DP World said.

GCT Deltaport told CIFFA it is undergoing a $300-million private investment through the Intermodal Yard Reconfiguration Project. Once complete, the capacity will increase from 1.24 million TEUs to 1.89 million TEUs.

During the construction period, GCT said it has made every effort to keep the velocity of cargo moving through the terminal and to maintain customer service. The physical construction period of the project was completed in May of this year. Deltaport is experiencing higher-than-average dwells over the past two weeks due in part to the shortage in rail car supply throughout the Vancouver Gateway. (For the latest rail data on Vancouver gateway terminals, click here.)

Overall, the project adds 2 electric Megamax STS cranes to GCT's fleet of 10 super post-Panamax cranes, 8 new CRMGs, a fleet of Tier 4f RTGs, a fleet of low-emission, auto-decoupling tractor trailers, and the implementation of shore power in collaboration with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and funding support from the Government of Canada to provide visiting container vessels the ability to plug in to the electric grid while at berth.

Members are encouraged to share the link to the Port of Vancouver terminal performance data with customers. Below is the chart showing dwell times for last Friday. In an ideal world, all would be green. Add additional delays due to inland movement by rail and congestion at inland rail terminals to these 'on dock' dwell times, and the true picture for the next few weeks is certainly not ideal.

Source: CIFFA


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