Transport Canada held another teleconference with stakeholders earlier today to provide an update on the status of rail and highway infrastructure following the flooding that occured in the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley regions earlier this week. Key takeaways from the teleconference include the following:
- There continues to be a great deal of uncertainty about when rail and highway access will be restored and what this will look like.
- The Trans Mountain Pipeline remains closed, and the best case scenario for its re-opening is the middle of next week. Given that the pipeline is a major source of diesel and gas (as well as a provider of raw material to key refineries), its closure raises the possibility of fuel shortages that could hamper recovery efforts and result in significant demand once routes start being restored.
- With respect to highway infrastructure, although Highway 7 re-opened for westbound traffic as of yesterday, demage assessments on all other highway routes are continuing. Priority attention is being given to Highway 3 because it appears to have sustained the least amount of damage, and is therefore most likely to have service restored in the shortest timeframe. Once service is restored, Highway 3 will enable goods to move from Alberta to Vancouver via the US (although there are still border issues to be worked out).
- With respect to rail infrastructure, CN has been able to restore partial access on one line (Vancouver to Boston Bar), which is enabling the railway to bring in machinery and equipment to damaged sites. However, CN still has no ability to move freight to or from the Port of Vancouver. This being said, CN’s line to Prince Rupert remains open and fluid, and some trains are being re-routed accordingly.
- CP has experienced multiple track outages and although the railways won’t provide a timeline for the restoration of service, they are looking at days not weeks. As per a notice issued yesterday, CP has advised that it is not accepting intermodal containers destined for Vancouver at any of its terminals until further notice.
- BNSF rail lines are open and trains are running in both directions, which is important for maintaining connectivity with the US.
- Transport Canada’s view is that once some level of rail and highway connectivity is restored (probably by the middle of next week), the supply chain will continue to be servely constrained for a much longer period of time, making it necessary to prioritize the movement of goods based on local needs vs provincial and national economic interests. The initial focus will definitely be on the movement of fuel, medicine, food and other essential goods to local communities.
- Transport Canada will hold another stakeholder call within the next few days, and will also begin establishing smaller working groups to being developing potential solutions to more specific issues.
We will continue to monitor this situation and provide members with updates as warranted.