Prince Rupert taking export traffic away from U.S. ports

The Prince Rupert Port may be causing ports on the west coast of the US to lose large portions of their export traffic to Asia. According to reputable industry journal, this has caused some of the US railroad companies to accuse CN Rail “poaching” their business by offering quicker transportation across the Pacific ocean via Prince Rupert.

The Prince Rupert Port may be causing ports on the west coast of the US to lose large portions of their export traffic to Asia. According to reputable industry journal, this has caused some of the US railroad companies to accuse CN Rail of “poaching” their business by offering quicker transportation across the Pacific ocean via Prince Rupert.

The shipping industry magazine The Journal of Commerce reported this month that exports from the cargo port in Seattle plummeted 27.8 per cent in May alone.  The port in Tacoma, Washington  also saw its exports fall 15.2 per cent. This is part of a much larger decline in traffic for west coast ports in the United States  that has been going on for the past year.

The decline has been so bad that Seattle and Tacoma ports are now doing less business than they did a year ago when the recession was going stronger than it is now. Contrast that with the Prince Rupert port which saw its export traffic double since last year. With the Phase II expansion on the way and a new intermodal yard being planned in Chicago to coincide with Phase II that would move 1-million containers to and from Prince Rupert, it looks like the city will continue to rise.

According to the Journal, all this has caused American railroad companies to accuse CN Rail – the company that actually uses the Prince Rupert port – of “poaching” cargo traffic from  American companies and ports. The Prince Rupert Northern View made several attempts to get a comment about these accusations from the Union Pacific and BNSF railway companies, but neither company responded to these requests.

“It makes it sound illegal to provide a rail service,” CN’s assistant vice president of intermodal sales, Mark Lerner told the Journal of Commerce, “CN services are priced competitively.”

Lerner went on to explain that one of the reasons that CN’s operations in the north-western United States is because of  the  connection to Prince Rupert’s Port. When asked to elaborate, CN Rail representatives had this to say:

“CN has experienced good volumes of container traffic over the Port of Prince Rupert, as well as Port Metro Vancouver. Certainly, major factors in CN’s strong performance include the strategic advantages of the Port of Prince Rupert, the reach of CN’s North American rail network, CN’s superior transit times, and the company’s improved interface with all ocean terminals through supply chain collaboration and level of service agreements.”