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Hamilton Container Terminal kicks off direct intermodal service

Dena Fehir
Hamilton Container Terminal kicks off direct intermodal service
HOPA PORTS — The initial trial for the Hamilton Container Terminal (HCT) was completed in December, but January was the true inaugural service. In the coming weeks, HCT is expecting to run several more trials before converting to a weekly connection to Montreal.

The first containers have rolled through Hamilton, Ont.’s new rail terminal via the inaugural Hamilton-Montreal intermodal freight train.

The run is being deemed a significant step forward for southern Ontario importers and exporters and is a collaboration between the Hamilton Container Terminal (HCT), the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) and Canadian National Railway.

The initial trial was completed in December, but January was the true inaugural service. In the coming weeks, HCT is expecting to run several more trials before converting to a weekly connection to Montreal, and then eventually settling into three times a week.

“We are focused on practical solutions to enhance supply chains in southern Ontario. 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 (and) reducing the truck kilometres associated with shipments,” said Ian Hamilton, president and CEO of HOPA Ports.

The partners expect to gradually increase volumes of export-bound shipping containers through the new terminal, pending Canada Border Services Agency approval for bonded movements.

Located at Pier 18 on Hamilton’s Bayfront, the new transload terminal is operated by the HCT and the partners aim to utilize it to increase supply chain capacity in southern Ontario, reduce truck movements and greenhouse gas emissions.

“It is Hamilton Container Terminal’s mission to connect our region with all Canadian gateway ports. Once established, 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,” said Amandeep Kaloti, CEO of HCT.

Approximately 20 per cent of southern Ontario bound containers from Canadian ports are destined for the Hamilton region. The Hamilton-Montreal intermodal freight train is designed to give GTHA exporters a cost-effective, environmentally responsible alternative and competitiveness on the global stage.

The cargo being moved is mainly a wide range of general commodities that flow in and out of the region. Shipments include agricultural soybeans, wines, steel coils, metal alloys, scrap metal, recycled paper, furniture, stone and granite, and glass.

“The GTHA is Canada’s most populous and economically dynamic region. The partners recognize the need to build supply chain capacity now, as the regional economy continues to grow, with congestion already a strain on southern Ontario highways,” said Doug MacDonald, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer for CN.

According to HCT officials, as the service grows, more staff will be needed to handle the expected expansion, which will result in a transformation of supply chain logistics in the region and has the potential to create hundreds of jobs.

“This new rail service is a game changer for all import/export businesses in our region. It will not only simplify supply chain logistics for regional businesses, but almost, as an aside, it will make an enormous contribution towards achieving Canada’s sustainability goals,” said Kaloti.

Prior to the HCT rail initiative, all cargo was moved by truck alone from GTA terminals in Toronto. The rail terminal in Hamilton will save two truck moves between Toronto and the Hamilton area destined cargo for every container.

“Hamilton’s reputation as a logistics leader in Canada has grown exponentially over the past few decades. 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,” said City of Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath.

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