CN: Laurentia Container Terminal To Be Ready In 2024

Quebec Shippers Support New Container Terminal. Advantageous Location Promises to Provide Fastest Service to Midwest Via CN.

12.June, Quebec QC — Port de Québec, CN, and Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) have won support of dozens of shippers for their Laurentia container terminal project, which promises to open in 2024 as the most efficient facility for delivering Atlantic container traffic into the continental heartland.

Shippers who have publicly announced their intent to utilize the Laurentia site include Congebec, Resolute Forest Products and Breton Tradition 1944, and the Association Québécoise de L’industrie de la Pêche (AQIP), whose 54 members represent more than 90 percent of the marine product volume processed in Quebec {insidelogistics.ca, 15. June.2020}. Other supporting shippers have demurred from publicizing their support.

Quebec City QC

Laurentia will expand upon the existing Port de Quebec facilities, adding substantial container capacity to efficiently serve ~13,000+ teu vessels. From cranes to straddle-loaders, all container-handling equipment at the terminal is expected to be operated automatically. Five on-dock loading tracks will feed a shunting yard designed to dispatch 12,000 ft. trains. {Port de Quebec; annotated by R&P.

Big vessels need a big terminal

Port Laurentia and the Quebec Container Terminal is a planned expansion of the PdQ’s existing Beauport facility. Lengthening the wharf line by 610 meters will enable docking 13,000 teu Neopanamax container ships, and processing up to 500,000 teu/yr. Container handling will be entirely automated from quay to railcar or truck chassis. Loaded rail strings will be assembled into road trains up to 12,000 ft long.

The terminal will leverage the PdQ’s existing 16-meter depth, year-round open water, and CN’s efficient routes to midwestern cities.

The Laurentia project is squarely targeting existing container traffic flowing through Halifax NS, Norfolk VA, and the Port of New York/New Jersey. Closer to home, the Port of Montreal is concerned about the impact the new port will have on its current volume. One report estimates that Quebec could take around 190,000 containers from Montreal. “We fear the creation of overcapacity in container handling on the St. Lawrence. We would end up with underused facilities. No one would be a winner in [such a] situation,” said Sophie Roux, Port of Montreal VP-Public Affairs.

The growth of Atlantic container traffic should however mitigate this impact. In the last several years, trans-Atlantic container volume has been growing at the expense of Pacific traffic, due largely to the U.S. – China trade war. If that trend were to continue, North Atlantic trade would absorb Laurentia’s added capacity. But with the radical slowdown in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, all ports will be struggling to regain their previous traffic levels, and competition will be fierce.