Shipping lines and ports gear up for project cargo business on the Great Lakes

Shipping lines and ports gear up for project cargo business on the Great Lakes

By Alex Binkley

Spliethoff, operating under the name BigLift, and McKeil Marine have geared up to serve the demand for project cargo shipments on the Seaway/Great Lakes. Their preparation has been matched by the ports of Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Johnston and Valleyfield as well as several U.S. harbours. However, just how much project cargo moves through the Seaway-Great Lakes is hard to pin down because the St. Lawrence Seaway doesn’t report project cargo volumes as a separate category. It’s included in the general cargo category and to the end of September, general cargo passing through the Seaway stood at 2.2 million tonnes, down 6.2 per cent compared to same period in 2017. (more…)

Fatigue among transportation workers remains ongoing Safety Board worry

Fatigue among transportation workers remains ongoing Safety Board worry

By Alex Binkley

Fatigued flight, railway and ship crews are a long-standing concern of the Transportation Safety Board and it hasn’t seen enough improvement on the issue to remove it from its watchlist of safety concerns. Board Chair Kathy Fox told a news conference fatigue has been an issue in more than 90 investigations since the TSB was created in 1990. The Board routinely investigates if fatigue was a factor in transportation accidents or incidents, and if it was, it examines whether the operator had measures in place to prevent operations with tired workers. (more…)

Tank car phase out will complicate but not cripple crude by rail shipments

Tank car phase out will complicate but not cripple crude by rail shipments

By Alex Binkley

Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s order to phase out two classes of tank cars used in transporting crude oil and condensates will complicate the petroleum industry’s logistics challenge but not completely disrupt shipments by rail, which are at record levels.

Brad Herald, Vice-President of Western Canada Operations for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), said the earlier than expected retirement of the two older classes of tank cars will be a challenge for the industry as it is struggling to clear as much product as possible. He described management of crude by rail shipments as a continental logistics exercise. In addition to making maximum use of the available tank cars, “we have to make sure there is capacity in the freight yards and on the rail lines to move them.” (more…)

Seaway upbeat about 2018 season

Seaway upbeat about 2018 season

By Alex Binkley

There was an upbeat mood in the air as the March 29 official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway approached, fueled by a nearly 9 per cent growth in business during 2017, and warm February temperatures that cooled fears of extensive ice coverage on the Great Lakes as in 2014.

However, threats by President Trump to impose hefty tariffs on imported steel and aluminum cast a shadow over the optimism. Bruce Hodgson, the Seaway’s Director of Market Development, said it had become difficult to offer any certainty in predicting 2018 traffic levels.

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New ships are showing their worth, Great Lakes-Seaway operators say

New ships are showing their worth, Great Lakes-Seaway operators say

By Alex Binkley

The new freighters that have joined the fleets of Great Lakes shipping lines in recent years are showing their worth and even leading to consideration of additional orders.

Canada Steamship Lines has its state-of-the-art Trillium class ships and Algoma Central its Equinox vessels. Built to take advantage of new technology and designs, the vessels address shipowner needs to stress efficiency in their operations.

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