CN eyes Halifax terminal stake to deepen reach

CN eyes Halifax terminal stake to deepen reach


A Canadian National Rallway train traveling.

Canadian National Railway. Photo credit:

Canadian National Railway is looking to acquire a stake in the largest of two terminals at the port of Halifax, a move positioned to make the railroad more competitive in serving Canadian shippers and US auto and agriculture shippers.

“As part of our action-oriented approach to grow trade volume in Eastern Network, CN is exploring the opportunity, with a partner, of getting involved in the acquisition of Halifax's Halterm container terminal,” the railroad said. CN is the sole rail service at Halifax, through which about 60 percent of the cargo handled moves by rail.

Halterm, able to handle ships of up to 16,000 TEU, according to the port, is undergoing a two-step expansion project aimed at helping the port better handle mega-ship calls anticipated by 2020. The port, with a 52 foot draft and a capacity of 1.13 million TEU through its two terminals, saw 50 percent growth in the last five years.

The planned temporary expansion of the Halterm terminal will increase the berth length from 2,165 feet to 2,890 feet, enabling it to handle two ships of more than 10,000 TEU at once. The second stage of the plan, which is still under discussion, would provide a long-term solution to the expected rise in vessel size and cargo volumes. A strong contender is the expansion of the Halterm terminal to create a second permanent berth and increase container storage space.

Ten years ago CN and the port of Prince Rupert began to position the western Canadian port to attract Asia cargo bound for Canada and the United States. Now growth is so fast that the port is undergoing another expansion to bring its capacity up to 1.8 million TEU.

Contact Hugh R. Morley at and follow him on Twitter: @HughRMorley1.