CP Rail speeds up delivery of imports from Vancouver to U.S. industrial heartland

MONTREAL — Canadian Pacific Railway is putting pressure on its larger domestic rival by cutting days off the delivery of imported goods from Vancouver to the U.S. industrial heartland.

The Calgary-based railway (TSX:CP) says changes in Vancouver and North Dakota will accelerate cross-border shipments and transport goods up to 48 hours faster than Canadian National Railway’s transit times to Detroit.

Intermodal containers, which are used for multiple modes of transport, can be unloaded from ships and take a five-day journey to the end of the line in Detroit for the automotive sector or continue on to the Ohio valley area.

“What we’ve been able to connect now is sort of a seamless operation through Chicago in which we run on an existing train that then seven days a week is hitting Detroit,” John Brooks, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer, said in an interview.

Shorter transit times cut costs for shippers, allowing them to reuse their containers more quickly.

Global shipping firm Hapag-Lloyd says getting goods to key U.S. markets efficiently is important.

“Shorter transit times, a more fluid border crossing and near seamless movement through Chicago means not only lower costs but better, more consistent access to the right markets,” said Hardy Pearson, Hapag-Lloyd’s senior vice-president for the Midwest and Northeast.

Montreal-based CN Rail (TSX:CNR) has recently boasted that avoiding congestion in Chicago allows its trains to move faster and more fluidly in the U.S. than its competition.

Brooks said CP Rail’s faster service could put some competitive pressure on CN.

“If the shoes were on the different foot I suppose I would definitely look at things I could do to improve my speed.”

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