Canadian National hikes storage fee at key box hub

Canadian National hikes storage fee at key box hub

Canadian National Railway has raised the fees it charges shippers and steamship companies to store containers by as much as 500 percent in an effort to ease congestion at a key intermodal terminal.

Canada's largest railroad said it will now cost C$75 to C$150 (US $57-115) per day starting Dec. 1 for containers left longer than three days, weekends included, at its Brampton Intermodal Terminal near Toronto. The railroad had charged C$25 a day, with longer free periods, since August of last year when it began a campaign to get shippers and carriers to move boxes out of the terminal 24 hours a day and on weekends.

Most containers moving on CN trains from Pacific or Atlantic ports must pass through Brampton for clearance by Canada Customs. Canadian National, headquartered in Montreal, says that volume at Brampton has far exceeded its daily handling capacity, and wants customers to provide their own warehouse space, and to keep those facilities open to receive containers around the clock.

The situation came to a head this past summer during a two-week boycott by truckers frustrated by long waiting times. Since then, improvements in systems and manpower has enabled CN to cut the number of waiting boxes to about 1,500 a day, but CN spokesman Mark Hallman said that "we wouldn't be taking this action if we felt everything was perfect in terms of the steamship companies," and that importers should organize their own warehouse space and move boxes around the clock.

Capt. Ivan Lantz, director of marine operations for the Shipping Federation of Canada, said that shippers have done their part, and that the entire transportation system is to blame, including the railroads. "They've got a rail car capacity shortage," he said.