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  February 20th, 2015 | Written by

Speed To Market

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Shippers looking to save days—and dollars—in getting goods to key North American markets are looking to Canadian ports on Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

The Port of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and the Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, along with rail partner Canadian National Railway Co., are cutting days off transit times that beneficial cargo owners can expect to get via gateways on respective U.S. seaboards.

When opened in 2007, Prince Rupert’s Fairview Container Terminal was the first dedicated intermodal container terminal in North America. Thanks to its northwesterly location, it can be reached from many Asian ports in three fewer days than Los Angeles or Long Beach.

“That attribute only becomes an advantage for shippers when the partners and all the elements of the logistics chain perform well,” says Shaun Stevenson, the Port of Prince Rupert’s vice president of Trade Development and Public Affairs. “We look at things from a system-wide perspective, from rail transit to terminal velocity, realizing that reliability and consistency provide what shippers want—and that’s predictability.”

Stevenson says Asian shipments to the U.S. Midwest and Central Canada can reach destinations as many as eight to 10 days faster via Prince Rupert than through congested Southern California ports.
On the Atlantic coast, the Port of Halifax also teams with on-dock CN service, providing the shortest scheduled times to commercial centers as far as Detroit and Chicago for goods coming from Europe (two days closer than other East Coast containerports), as well as from Asia via the Suez Canal (a full day closer).

Being the last outbound port of call has the same benefits for exporters as being the first does for importers: excellent times coming out of major centers, shorter logistics time and reduced cost of capital, according to Karen Oldfield, president and chief executive officer of the Halifax Port Authority.

The Port of Halifax, with roots dating back to the 1700s, has seen $100 million in facility investments since 2011. It has the ability to triple capacity without significant changes to existing infrastructure, Oldfield says, adding, “We have the infrastructure, we have the experience and we have the capacity to grow with the industry as the shift to larger vessels continues.”