Greater prospects for container shipping along the St Lawrence Seaway
CONTAINER traffic along the St Lawrence Seaway is set to increase with the long-term forecast for increased international trade, combined with logistical issues related to railway and truck transportation, reports Fort Lauderdale’s Maritime Executive.
Before the pandemic lockdown, Canada invested heavily into upgrading the Port of Montreal and expanded the port to process increased numbers of containers. Two railway companies connect to the container terminals at Montreal and operate frequent extended length trains that carry containers to the Greater Toronto Area, Canada’s most populous region.
Road traffic volume in the Greater Toronto Area has steadily increased to the point where slowdowns and delays due to road traffic congestion are frequent, leaving intermodal railway-to-truck terminals (“inland ports”) as the default alternative.
The combination of increased future container trade going into the Greater Toronto Area provides an opportunity to explore moving containers along the St Lawrence Seaway to Canadian ports on Lake Ontario.
Road traffic conditions near the Port of Toronto would require the transfer of some intermodal waterway-truck transfer operations be moved to the nearby Port of Hamilton to the west and Port of Oshawa to the east. Both ports would require further development to include ship-to-truck transfer of containers.
The Port of Hamilton is located next to a main highway, allowing extended length trucks to travel between main highway and future container terminal along roads that are far less congested than near Port of Toronto.
At Port of Oshawa, trucks would have to travel along city streets between the main highway and the maritime terminal, leaving Hamilton as the default choice for future container traffic going to destinations located west of Toronto. To the east of Oshawa, the privately owned Port of Picton and Port of Johnstown have both expressed interest in handling containerized freight.
Several container ships that sail via the Suez Canal and from European ports to East Coast American ports make a stop at the Port of Halifax. Evolving container transfer technology greatly enhances the future ability of Port of Halifax to transfer containers between mega-size ocean-going container ships and smaller ships sailing to domestic ports, including ports located along the St Lawrence Seaway and around the Great Lakes.
Future development at the Port of Quebec City will allow larger container ships to deliver containers to their expanded terminal. While the port is focused on intermodal railway to carry containers to inland markets, there is also potential to transfer containers to inland vessels that sail to the St Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes ports.