Port Metro Vancouver, the Canadian port that has taken the brunt of the strike against Canadian Pacific Railway, is prepared to implement an orderly return to business if the railroad resumes operations Friday as expected.
Peter Xotta, the port’s vice president of planning and operations, said a time frame of “several days to a couple of weeks” to return to normal is reasonable.
Legislation in Ottawa that would force an end to the strike appeared ready for approval later Thursday. Xotta said the railroad employees would be back on their jobs 12 hours after that, which means trains should be calling at Canada’s largest container port early Friday.
Canada’s other railroad, Canadian National, continued to operate this week while the CP was shut down. Xotta said that as a result, a number of containers were moving into and out of the port, which helped to prevent total gridlock.
A rule of thumb is that after a complete rail shutdown, it takes three to four days for every day the railroad was idled for the intermodal supply chain to return to normal. If both railroads had been shut down, it could have taken Vancouver almost a month to return to fluidity. However, because CN continued to operate, Xotta said he anticipates the recovery period will be shorter.
The port authority is being visible and transparent in its efforts to facilitate a return to normal operations, Xotta said. It is in continuous contact with terminal operators, the railroads and other stakeholders.
The port’s challenge in the coming days will be to manage the expectations of its stakeholders. “There are a lot of anxious customers,” he said.
CP, terminal operators and the port authority have a recovery plan that is ready for implementation, he said.