National railways heat up investments in cool cargo

National railways heat up investments in cool cargo

By Keith Norbury

Canada’s two major railways are each ramping up their cold chain game. Canadian Pacific Railway in February launched a trademarked TempPro service for perishable products that is being augmented by the purchase this year of more than 400 new 53-foot “SlimLine” reefers. Canadian National Railway, meanwhile, plans to add more equipment to the 2017 addition of 100 reefer units to its CargoCool fleet, which now has 720 units, Senior Media Relations Manager Patrick Waldron said by email. “Each 53-foot CargoCool container offers the power of almost 100 refrigerators and through ReeferTrak, our team has real time visibility to temperatures inside the box, ensuring that perishable cargo is protected at all times,” Mr. Waldron said. (more…)

Cold cargo prospects in B.C. encounter environmental worries

Cold cargo prospects in B.C. encounter environmental worries

By Keith Norbury

B.C.’s biggest export of chilled cargo — farmed salmon — and a proposal to build’s Canada’s largest container terminal, with storage for 1,628 reefers, are running into opposition from environmentalists.

A recent Environment Canada report outlining a threat to sandpipers from the proposed $2 billion Roberts Bank Terminal 2 “struck a potential death blow” to the project, the Vancouver Sun reported in February. Meanwhile in March, Washington State passed legislation to phase out ocean net-pen farming of Atlantic salmon by 2025 — a move cheered by salmon farming opponents such as activist and researcher Alexandra Morton. Proponents of Terminal 2 and B.C. salmon farming don’t appear too worried about those threats, however. (more…)

Global Cold Chain Expo draws Canadian companies to Chicago

Global Cold Chain Expo draws Canadian companies to Chicago

Several Canadian companies will exhibit at the Global Cold Chain Expo in Chicago in late June. Among the Canuck exhibitors is Vancouver-headquartered VersaCold, which operates Canada’s largest temperature-sensitive logistics network. VersaCold President Doug Harrison said the expo presents a “great opportunity” for his company’s operations and business development personnel to meet with customers and participate in educational sessions. “It is a big event,” said Mr. Harrison, who has attended the expo in the past and whose company is a member of the Global Cold Chain Alliance, which organizes the expo. “There are a lot of people. There are a lot of conversations taking place. There are great educational programs. There are great networking opportunities.” (more…)

Facilities expand to handle more refrigerated shipments

Facilities expand to handle more refrigerated shipments

By Keith Norbury

Judging from recent expansions at Canada’s major ports that include additional infrastructure for handling refrigerated containers, the country’s cool cargo business appears to be growing. Figures to quantify that growth are difficult to come by, however. The most recent Statistics Canada report on the seaborne reefer trade is seven years old. (more…)

Railway to Churchill closed as parties fight over who should fix the flood-damaged line

Railway to Churchill closed as parties fight over who should fix the flood-damaged line

By Keith Norbury

The Hudson Bay Railway line proved no match for the uneven, boggy terrain of the Hudson Bay Lowlands this spring. On June 9, a news release from OmniTrax Inc., its owner, said it had suspended service indefinitely on the railway from Amery, 29 rail miles northeast of Gillam, to Churchill — a section it had been unable to operate since May 23. A preliminary assessment by an independent engineering firm found the flooding had washed the track bed away in 19 locations, the release said. The flood “visibly damaged” five bridges with another 30 bridges and 600 culverts needing further assessment.

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Churchill’s future up in the air but remains perpetually promising

Churchill’s future up in the air but remains perpetually promising

By Keith Norbury

Churchill Home Building Centre put in a big order for about $1 million of stock early this spring in anticipation of a good year, said Dale De Meulles, a lifelong resident of the remote Manitoba town who co-owns the store with his wife Rhoda.

Buoying his optimism were a flood of inquiries from customers in even more remote communities in Nunavut to buy much of that stock. The good news was that the store received its stock before severe flooding in late May wiped out sections of the Hudson Bay Railway, the sole land-link connecting Churchill with the rest of the continent. The bad news is none of those inquiries from Nunavut turned into orders. As Rhoda De Meulles explained, the northern customers didn’t bother sending barges to Churchill because the railway wouldn’t be able to deliver their other supplies. Instead, those Nunavut communities turned to shippers in Montreal.

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