Unitrans Newsletter | Edition 17 | March 20, 2015
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In Edition 17:
West Coast Update
Canadian National Hub Annoucement
Port of Virginia Congestion
Lufthansa Airline Strike
FMC Commissioner Calls on Carrier Alliances
> GRI Updates
> Links of the Week

Links of the Week

United States and Canada Sign Preclearance Agreement

Association of American Railroads Rail Traffic Report

2014 North American Freight Numbers


West Coast Update

A month after the tentative labor contract agreement between the ILWU and PMA, congested marine terminals continue to work through container backlog at West Coast seaports. Southern California container volumes continued to suffer through the end of February at the nation's busiest port complex. The Port of Los Angeles recorded a 10.2 percent decline in total container volume to 502,663 TEUs. Imports at the port dropped 10.7 percent and exports declined 10.3 percent year-over-year. Similarly, the Port of Long Beach reported a 20.1 percent decline in total container volume to 413,114 TEUs. Import volumes declined 24.7 percent and exports dropped 22.9 percent compared to February 2014. Additionally, the Port of Oakland disclosed that container volumes in February plummeted 36.7 percent. Imports at the northern California port dropped 39 percent and exports declined 34 percent year-over-year.

On March 30, 90 ILWU delegates from all West Coast port regions will meet for an ILWU caucus in San Francisco. The delegates will vote to recommend approval or rejection of the tentative labor contract agreement, which was reached on February 20. If the delegates vote to reject the agreement, the ILWU and PMA will return to the bargaining table. If the delegates successfully vote to recommend approval, the local leadership will hold meetings with the rank and file in their respective ports. Voting by the ILWU membership would be by secret ballot in April.

Canadian National Hub Announcement

On Tuesday, March 17, Canadian National (CN) Railway announced plans to build a $196 million USD intermodal and logistics hub in Milton, Ontario, roughly 30 miles west of Toronto. The new terminal will initially be able to handle approximately 300,000 container units annually and about 450,000 containers a year at full capacity. The Milton terminal will operate as a satellite to the Brampton Intermodal Terminal, which handled about 1 million container units last year. If the 400-acre project receives timely approval from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, construction on the Milton hub could begin as soon as 2016 and be completed by the end of 2017.

Port of Virginia Congestion

The Port of Virginia has been affected early this year by an influx of re-routed cargo and harsh winter weather, creating severe congestion at the East Coast gateway. The port has recently announced a number of operational changes in an order to combat the congestion. The port has reduced export storage time, extended gate hours, and shifted select vessel service strings to Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT). Additionally, please be advised that drayage companies have begun to implement a port congestion fee to help offset the rising costs of container moves. Follow the port's operations alerts here. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your local Unitrans International account manager.

Lufthansa Airline Strike

The pilots' union, Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), has participated in strike actions since Wednesday, March 20, and has stated the strike will continue into this weekend. The pilot strike has forced Lufthansa to cancel a majority of the airline's passenger flights for three consecutive days this week. The dispute is reportedly due to the airline's cost-cutting program and changes to early retirement benefits. The pilots' union has walked out 14 times since April of 2014, affecting the largest European airline's operations. Reports state that the union will expand its strike efforts to target cargo flights beginning Saturday, March 21.

FMC Commissioner Calls On Carrier Alliances

Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Commissioner, Michael Khouri, has called upon the FMC to request the four major ocean carrier alliances - G6, CKYHE, Ocean 3, and 2M - to provide information on the steps each are taking to reduce congestion at U.S. ports. Khouri is interested in investigating reports which allege that Asian port loading practices have resulted in additional intra-facility ground moves at marine terminals. Khouri has also called for the alliances to provide quarterly updates as currently required in each alliance's agreement under Section 6 of the 1984 Shipping Act. Read the FMC press release here.

GRI Updates

Please be advised that carriers have now canceled the previously reported March 9 Trans-Pacific Eastbound (TPEB) trade general rate increase. The next GRI for this trade will be on April 9 in the amount of $12/CBM, $24/MT, $480/20', $600/40', $675/40'HQ and $760/45'. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your local Unitrans International account manager.

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