Port HAL: PSA Buys Halterm; CN Port Rail Expansion Funded

PSA Buys Halterm South Cove Terminal Ahead of Comprehensive Expansion for Ultramax Capacity. Port Rail Service to Become Traffic Lifeline to Integrate Container Growth.

21 August, Halifax NS –The Halterm South Cove Container Terminal has been acquired by Singapore-based PSA International, from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners. Halterm is PSA’s first North American coastal facility. PSA also owns Ashcroft Terminal, British Columbia’s largest inland port facility, and is in discussions to acquire Philadelphia’s Penn Terminals. Halterm is the lone container terminal North of New York/New Jersey that can handle mega container vessels. It played the major role in Port of Halifax’s’s record 2018 traffic of 548,000 TEU.

PSA Global Network

Halifax will be PSA’s first North American marine terminal. Along with the lucrative Halterm operation, PSA is getting well-developed plans to expand the terminal to serve two neopanamax vessels at the same time, and the landslide infrastructure to handle the increased traffic {PSA website}.

Port hustling to keep up with ultras

Currently, Halterm can serve a single neopanamax vessel (~11,500 TEU)1, while also serving two Panamax-scale boats. But Port officials warn that, “unless Halifax expands its port facilities to add a permanent second ultra class berth with new terminal and rail capacity, the shipping industry will choose to bypass Halifax and use US ports” {Hugh R. Morley JOC, 25.June.2019}. In response, the Port is pushing both short- and long-term expansion projects.

An in-progress CA$35 Million “temporary” expansion to lengthen Pier C southward from 2,165 feet to 2,890, along with a fifth SPPX quay crane, will provide capacity to serve two NPXs (~10,000 TEU) simultaneously, sometime in 2020.

But Halterm anticipates that Ultramax (~18,000 TEU) ships will come its way in the next five years. Thus, plans are underway to add a third, UMX-scale berth, and the onshore capacity to spread the volume by rail to the Fairview Cove Container Terminal on the Port’s north end, at the head of CN’s Bedford Subdivision.

Rail expansion absorbs traffic, adds flow

To prepare for UMX-driven traffic surges, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia announced CA$47.5 million for two cargo traffic mitigation projects {Transport Canada announcement, 02.June.2019}. The rail project will add tracks in the existing ROW, and four cranes to speed loading/unloading at both ends. Halterm-landed containers bound for destinations beyond the province will be moved by rail to Fairview, and then out via CN. Trucks will only pick up containers bound for Nova Scotia destinations, primarily those containing frozen and refrigerated goods that are bound by transporting restrictions.{Francis Campbell, Truro News 25 June}. POH is also considering development of additional intermodal terminals (rail ramps) and an Off Dock Intermodal Yard in other areas of Halifax and the province. The projects are estimated to be in service in 2025.

Halifax NS

CN’s Bedford Subdivision will receive a good chunk of the CA$47.5 million form the Federal and Provincial governments to expand container moving and storage capacity. The rail connection between the South and North Coves will bulk up with additional tracks, and cranes {Google, annotated by ANRP(c)2019}.


1 the 11,400 TEU CMA CGM Libra on 12 January