Port expansion to boost CN traffic

CNR chief executive expects Prince Rupert port expansion to boost CN traffic

MONTREAL (CP) - Canadian National Railway Co. is expecting a big boost in traffic through an expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert, B.C.

Chief executive Hunter Harrison said Thursday that a planned container terminal at the Pacific port will give both CN and the federal port a competitive advantage over other railways and West Coast ports. A spokesman for the Prince Rupert Port Authority said the port is expected to announce within 60 days a partner to build a container terminal to handle shipments from Asia.

Shaun Stevenson said the province of British Columbia has also committed $17 million to the terminal project.

Harrison said CN’s investment at Prince Rupert is partly dependent on getting federal approval for its $1-billion takeover of B.C. Rail, announced last November. It is under review by the Competition Bureau.

If the controversial B.C. Rail deal goes through, CN is already committed to spend $15 million to modify its line between Prince Rupert and its mainline track west of Edmonton, to make it possible to carry two stacked containers on each railcar, as the mainline network already can.

“There’s a huge opportunity in Prince Rupert,” Harrison said in a presentation to analysts.

Inter-modal traffic, moving containers that also go on ships and trucks, accounts for 19 per cent of CN revenues.

Harrison said that while the intermodal business is growing, it has to improve margins to achieve the profits of its other divisions.
© Copyright 2004 The Canadian Press

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