CN: Eyes New Port Of Quebec Terminal As Key To Midwest

Canadian National's Ruest Assured a High-Powered Montreal Audience that the New Port of Quebec Container Terminal Would be Completed by 2024, and Would Beat PANYNJ to the Midwest. But What About Halifax?

13 January, Quebec City QC – Canadian National CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest announced on Monday that the $775-million proposed container terminal for Quebec City would draw container traffic from PANYNJ — be a key component to seize container market share from the Port of New York and New Jersey. Ruest was addressing the Canadian Club of Montreal.

Big promises

Proposed plans for the new port, which has yet to break ground, are based on 14,000-foot trains serving import and export traffic, with dwell times of under 48 hours. The deep-water port would be the Atlantic’s most northerly year-round container facility. Port authorities anticipate that more than 85% of containers will pass through the terminal by rail, to be transferred via CN to Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis.

Canadian National NEW Quebec Intermodal Container Terminal brochure envisions an Atlantic iteration of the Port of Prince Rupert , designed to outperform PANYNJ to major Midwest gateways. The quick-turn Hutchison terminal promises will quay up to a 13,000TEU Neopanamax ship, and send out 14,000′ trains on direct CN single-line routes to Toronto, Chicago, and Detroit. {Canadian National Railway}.

Princely plans

CN’s vision is to replicate the success of its Prince Rupert BC container terminal, which is being expanded following record volumes. Containers represented more than 25% of the CN revenue during the first three quarters of 2019, and volumes are only expected to benefit from new trade deals such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the USMCA, (proposed successor to NAFTA).

Ruest also said that CN will have rail access to the Port of Montreal’s proposed container facility in Contrecoeur, and is in discussions to take part in a possible expansion of the Port of Halifax. He emphasized that, “More and more you will see us do commercial and financial alliances with partners to ensure the Eastern Canadian ports play an important role in the U.S. Midwest.”

Much of the traffic that is being touted for the new Quebec terminal is currently handled at Halifax NS. After losing a bid to operate the Halterm intermodal terminal – for which CN had identical “Prince Rupert” dreams, CN remains a tenant at Port of Halifax. It is unclear if the ships referenced for the Quebec terminal would bypass Halifax and continue on to the modernized and faster port in Quebec City, after it is opened.

Potential pushback

The vision of some locals is less enthusiastic. “More and more people are having doubts about the project,” Alice-Anne Simard, managing director of Nature Québec, a non-profit group that’s leading the charge against the expansion, said Monday in an interview. “To us, it’s not justified.”

Nonetheless, Ruest assured his audience that the terminal planned to be open in Spring 2024 with ready capacity of 700,000 TEUs, with dedicated CN service.