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Critical Port Delays In Vancouver

December 9, 2016

Dec 9, 2016

As the Christmas season quickly approaches Dwell times at the major ports are reaching an average of 8 to 10 days. This is quite high but not unusual for this time of year. We are encouraging our customers to plan ahead for urgent shipments since the carriers tend to stop offering ERS (Expedited Rail Service) during this time. First it was Vanterm and Centerm facing critical delays in terminal operations, due primarily to inefficient rail switching. The cause of these backlogs is not related to rail-equipment availability or long-haul rail issues. This is purely an on-dock switching issue and one that could possibly have been mitigated or avoided by better oversight or transparency among the players. After several weeks, the Inner Harbour terminal switching issues are being addressed, and it is expected that backlogs — which have been averaging more than a week — will be reduced by Christmas.

Meanwhile,

As the Christmas season quickly approaches Dwell times at the major ports are reaching an average of 8 to 10 days. This is quite high but not unusual for this time of year. We are encouraging our customers to plan ahead for urgent shipments since the carriers tend to stop offering ERS (Expedited Rail Service) during this time. First it was Vanterm and Centerm facing critical delays in terminal operations, due primarily to inefficient rail switching. The cause of these backlogs is not related to rail-equipment availability or long-haul rail issues. This is purely an on-dock switching issue and one that could possibly have been mitigated or avoided by better oversight or transparency among the players. After several weeks, the Inner Harbour terminal switching issues are being addressed, and it is expected that backlogs — which have been averaging more than a week — will be reduced by Christmas.

Meanwhile, average dwell times at Deltaport have crept up, to between 4 and 5 days from November averages of 2½ to 3½ days, and there are some outlier groups of containers sitting for as many as 8 to 10 days. And so, the third major container terminal joins Vanterm and Centerm with delays. Unlike the Inner Harbour terminals, Deltaport delays are due to factors beyond their control: high winds that have hampered or shut down crane operations, and vessel bunching caused by typhoons at sea.

Deltaport has advised that it is trucking aggressively and, as of yesterday, is delivering approximately 25,000 to 30,000 feet per day, including trucking to CN VIT / CP VIF to expedite the recovery.

As of yesterday, there were:

* 88,000 for CN, with average on-dock dwell of 3.76 days

* 44,000 for CP, with average on-dock dwell of 4.37 days

Regardless of the reasons for the delays and congestion, the impacts are felt by everyone. Importers face delays in receiving their 2016 pre-Christmas merchandise. Combined costs as high as $600 per container for ERS or ETRS service plus gate fees makes expedited service expensive. More trucks are on the road, so emissions and traffic congestion are increased. Vessels are parked at anchor waiting to discharge or load, so exports are also delayed, and already stressed carriers face additional and unanticipated operating expenses. Vessel rotations are affected and knocked off schedule, which will have a carry-on effect as we prepare for an early Chinese New Year at the end of January.

Deltaport has advised that it is trucking aggressively and, as of yesterday, is delivering approximately 25,000 to 30,000 feet per day, including trucking to CN VIT / CP VIF to expedite the recovery.

As of yesterday, there were:

* 88,000 for CN, with average on-dock dwell of 3.76 days

* 44,000 for CP, with average on-dock dwell of 4.37 days

Regardless of the reasons for the delays and congestion, the impacts are felt by everyone. Importers face delays in receiving their 2016 pre-Christmas merchandise. Combined costs as high as $600 per container for ERS or ETRS service plus gate fees makes expedited service expensive. More trucks are on the road, so emissions and traffic congestion are increased. Vessels are parked at anchor waiting to discharge or load, so exports are also delayed, and already stressed carriers face additional and unanticipated operating expenses. Vessel rotations are affected and knocked off schedule, which will have a carry-on effect as we prepare for an early Chinese New Year at the end of January.

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