HOPA and partners launch intermodal container service out of Hamilton harbour

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Published January 22, 2024 at 2:01 pm

The arrival of the inaugural Hamilton-Montreal intermodal freight train carrying export-bound shipping containers signifies the launch of a weekly direct intermodal rail service between the two cities, a “significant step forward” for importers and exporters in southern Ontario.

The new service, officially launched Monday morning, is a collaboration between Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA), Canadian National Railway (CN) and Hamilton Container Terminal and will be located at Pier 18 on Hamilton’s waterfront.

The partners aim to use the new terminal to increase supply chain capacity in southern Ontario, reduce truck movements as well as reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

Canada’s railways are “key” to addressing climate change, noted Hamilton Container Terminal CEO Amandeep Kaloti, with a “significantly lower” emission profile for container movements relative to road transportation.

“Once established,” he said, “we will be saving at least 200 truck movements per day from our local highways. This amounts to approximately 70,000 tons of reduced carbon emissions annually.”

With approximately 20 per cent southern Ontario-bound containers from Canadian ports destined for the Hamilton region, businesses can now enjoy a cost effective alternative closer to home, said HOPA CEO Ian Hamilton, who added the improvement in greenhouse gas emissions is accompanied by a significant reduction in complexity, logistics, and cost, assisting the competitiveness of local exporters on the global stage.

“We are focused on practical solutions to enhance supply chains in southern Ontario,” said Hamilton. “By taking a regional perspective on goods movement, we can help to optimize shipments according to the best mode; in this case, keeping containers on rails longer, reducing the truck kilometers associated with shipments.”

The partners expect to gradually increase volumes through the new terminal, pending Canadian Border Services Agency approval for bonded movements.

Hamilton Container Terminal launched their short sea container service in 2021 and Kaloti said it is Hamilton Container Terminal’s “mission” to connect the region with all Canadian gateway ports. “Transferring containers in close proximity to the customer contributes to a more efficient transportation network. Our first trial, establishing (the terminal) as an intermodal hub within the CN rail network for container movements to and from this area is a significant step toward achieving this goal.”

CN Executive Vice-President Doug MacDonald said his company recognized the need to build supply chain capacity now, with congestion “already a strain” in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area.

“We consistently seek opportunities to enhance the capacity of our network. The (Hamilton Container Terminal) represents an opportunity to meet the needs of the growing Greater Toronto-Hamilton market.”

Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath said the new service is another factor in the reputation of the city – already home to the busiest overnight express cargo airport and the busiest port on the Canadian Great Lakes – as a logistics leader in Canada growing “exponentially” over the past few decades.

“Hamilton has increased its capacity to connect to the world through this investment. Whether by road, rail, air or port, quite simply, business ‘moves here,’” she said. “The Hamilton Container Terminal plays a crucial role in connecting and strengthening industrial and commercial supply chains and no doubt makes Hamilton a vital city in the national network.”

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