Many Canadian communities depend on short line railways

Many Canadian communities depend on short line railways

By Keith Norbury

In its first year of operation, the Great Sandhills Railway in Saskatchewan had a budget of about $2 million. A decade later, its annual budget is around $7 million.

“Of that $7 million, probably 85 to 90 per cent goes right back within 100 miles of the rail line,” said Perry Pellerin, the railway’s CEO. That economic injection includes buying fuel locally from Co-op and ballast from the municipalities along the 198-kilometre line, which extends from Swift Current, Sask., to just across the Alberta border in McNeill.

“Really anything we can buy locally, we try to do that,” Mr. Pellerin said in a phone interview. “And that’s good for the communities also. It employs people.” (more…)

Work to begin this fall on oversized load corridor for Sarnia, Ontario

By Keith Norbury

LamSar Inc. of Sarnia, Ontario, makes enormous pieces of equipment. One project currently underway involves constructing 84 modules for nearby Nova Chemicals’ new polyethylene plant. The largest of those modules measures 120 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 68 feet high, said LamSar co-owner Dave Hill. Fortunately, Nova Chemicals is only about three kilometres away from the LamSar yard where that module is being built.

“Part of the deal here in the township where our plant is located is to permanently bury the power lines that run the arteries between us and the site,” Hill said. “So the sky’s the limit.” Moving large cargos from LamSar’s facilities to the Sarnia waterfront for shipment overseas isn’t nearly so easy at present. It involves temporarily raising utility lines, which can add considerably to the shipping costs — if those obstacles can even be moved. (more…)

Ports merger expected to diversify project cargo options

Ports merger expected to diversify project cargo options

By Keith Norbury

The recent merger of the Hamilton and Oshawa port authorities should give shippers of project cargo and breakbulk more options for moving those cargoes, said the new President and CEO of the combined Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority. “It gives us a more diversified value proposition in talking to customers, giving them a couple of different alternatives in terms of access to the marine in both facilities,” said Ian Hamilton.

“The project cargo portion of our businesses is relatively small, sort of under five per cent of the overall business,” Mr. Hamilton added, “But breakbulk, on the other hand, is quite an important piece of our business particularly in the steel sector, for both Oshawa and for Hamilton.” (more…)

Massive LNG project poised for cargo

Massive LNG project poised for cargo

By Keith Norbury

It’s going to take a massive amount of project cargo and breakbulk — heavy machinery, steel, modular housing, etc. — to build the $40 billion LNG Canada project in Kitimat, B.C. Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth is already seeing plenty of activity in and around the LNG Canada construction site. Camp modules, such as ATCO trailers, are still arriving daily by truck along the southern stretch of Highway 37, formerly known as the Terrace-Kitimat Highway. The mayor has also noticed the arrival of brand new equipment such as bulldozers and earth movers. “There’s a lot of new equipment coming in for both the LNG site, of course, and also working on the pipeline route,” Mr. Germuth said.

On the water, most of the activity is dredging around the wharf that will become LNG Canada’s ocean terminal. Known as the old Eurocan wharf, for the now defunct pulp mill it used to serve, it was acquired by LNG Canada from Rio Tinto, which operates the nearby aluminum smelter that has been the community’s economic engine since Kitimat was founded in the 1950s. In exchange for the old Eurocan wharf, which will become terminal B, LNG Canada has agreed to build a new terminal A for the smelter. (more…)

Cargo airships poised to take flight

Cargo airships poised to take flight

By Keith Norbury

For 20 years, University of Manitoba professor Dr. Barry Prentice had advocated for lighter-than-air ships as a solution to transportation challenges of remote regions like Canada’s north. No such airships have been flown commercially — at least not since the days of the Zeppelins in the 1930s — but their revival is no longer considered a flight of fancy. Several companies — including aviation giant Lockheed Martin — are developing a new generation of 21st century airships that Dr. Prentice expects will take flight within the next few years.

“There’s not a single cargo ship in use,” said Dr. Prentice, a professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management at the university’s I.H. Asper School of Business. “The only ones that are flying are still the advertising blimps. But there’s a lot of interest and people who are trying and are getting close.” (more…)

Railways bolster cold chain segments

Railways bolster cold chain segments

By Keith Norbury

Canada’s two major railways are embarking on some cool endeavours to build their refrigerated and temperature-controlled cargo business. For instance, the larger of the two, Canadian National Railway, recently wrapped up the acquisition of a major trucking company that specializes in refrigerated cargo. Meanwhile, Canadian Pacific Railway, recently brought into service 423 new 53-foot refrigerated containers and another 363 heated 53-foot containers. (more…)