Canadian Shipper


Top 10 stories of 2019

1  CN Rail Strike

In November, 3,200 Teamsters Canada Rail Conference members went on an eight-day strike  after failing to reach a deal with CN. The conductors and yard crews working on the reached a tentative agreement on Nov. 26.

The strike on Canada’s largest rail network brought to a halt much of Canada’s export commodities, everything from wheat to potash. It also raised fears of a shortage of propane in parts of country, used to heat homes, power hospital back-up generators and by farmers to dry crops after harvest.

2  ELD mandate

Canada’s long-awaited electronic logging device (ELD) rule was announced by government on June 13.

The made-in-Canada regulation requires third-party device certification, something the U.S. did not pursue, and a detail the Canadian trucking industry lobbied to have included. In the U.S., devices are self-certified, which has led to the arrival in the market of ELDs that can be modified or tampered with.

By June 2021, third-party-certified ELDs will have to be used by all truck drivers currently required to maintain a logbook. The announcement was greeted with enthusiasm by industry associations.

Many believe that the data carriers will collect can improve the carrier-shipper relationship, especially when it comes to the loading and unloading times known as demurrage.

3   Uber Freight comes to Canada

Uber Freight announced its expansion to Canada in October. It was the company’s first North American expansion and comes on the heels of Uber Freight’s recent European expansion to Germany, the Netherlands and Poland, as the company continues to scale its global operations.

Some had predicted the move would happen earlier than it did.

4   CTA investigates shippers’ complaints about railways

In January, the Canadian Transportation Agency flexed its newly enhanced authority under the 2018 Transportation Modernization Act and launched an investigation into whether rail companies were fulfilling their obligations following industry complaints.

A preliminary report appeared to confirm shippers’ complaints about a relatively high number of restrictions on commodities they tried to move by rail through the Vancouver area.

After holding hearings, the CTA determined Canadian National breached its level of service obligations in the Vancouver area late in 2018, while Canadian Pacific and three other railways did not.

5   The digitalization of container shipping

The year saw major movement from container shipping lines when it came to attempting to create common information technology standards to make the industry more efficient for both customers and shipping lines.

Four container shipping giants—Maersk, MSC, Hapag-Lloyd and Ocean Network Express—officially established the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA).

TradeLens, the blockchain-enabled digital shipping platform, jointly developed by A.P. Moller – Maersk and IBM, continued to add members, including Hapag-Lloyd and Singapore-based Ocean Network Express (ONE) Pte., as well as CMA CGM and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company and North American container terminal operator GCT.

6   Autonomous trucks

2019 also saw major advancements in autonomous trucking, including:

Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics actively developing and testing automated trucks with SAE Level 4 intent technology on public roads;

Loadsmart and Starsky Robotics announced that they were able to automatically dispatch an autonomous truck to haul freight; having successfully priced, tendered and booked via Loadsmart and then picked up and delivered the shipment using Starsky’s self-driving technology;

Starsky Robotics completing its first public unmanned test, driving a heavy-duty commercial truck for 9.4 miles along Florida’s Turnpike with no one in it: successfully navigating a rest area, merging onto the highway, changing lanes, and keeping a speed of 55 mph. All without a human on-board; and

A group of Scania experts in different fields teamed up and developed a concept truck, which, even without the cab, has the company’s modular system at the heart of the design.


7  CP derailment in BC kills three

On February 4, a Vancouver-bound train with 112 grain cars was parked for two hours with its air brakes engaged on a grade east of Field, B.C., when it started moving on its own. The train sped up to well over the limit before 99 cars and two locomotives hurtled off the tracks.

Three employees with Canadian Pacific Railway — engineer Andrew Dockrell, conductor Dylan Paradis and trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer — were killed.

Following the incident, Canada’s transport minister ordered the use of handbrakes on all trains stopped on mountain slopes. Shortly after, Canada’s two largest railways appealed the order.

The incident highlighted ongoing gaps in Canada’s railway safety regime, more than five years after the Lac-Megantic rail disaster that killed 47 residents of the small Quebec town.

8   IMO 2020

In 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a UN agency that is responsible for environmental impacts of ships,  will implement ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from maritime shipping. The IMO plan regulates carbon dioxide emissions from ships and requires shipping companies to halve their GHG emissions, based on 2008 levels by 2050.

But decarbonizing maritime transportation represents a major challenge that will require a revolutionary shift to alternative renewable fuels.

The industry also jumped on board with the International Chamber of shipping proposing a research and development program to help cut carbon dioxide emissions, funded by about $5 billion from shipping companies over a decade. The nongovernmental organization will be known as the International Maritime Research and Development Board.

Some shipping lines also proposed not using Arctic shipping routes, including CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd and MSC.

9  Amazon and FedEx

Amazon and FedEx ended their relationship in the US, with FedEx terminated its air delivery contract and ground delivery service, as the online shopping giant continued to build its own fleet and becoming more of a threat to delivery companies.

In Canada, the relationship remained unchanged.

10  NAFTA 2.0 a done deal

In December, Canada joined the United States and Mexico in heralding a new era of North American prosperity as they formally agreed to changes to the new continental free trade deal first reached last year.

The amended deal comes after years intense, at times bitter, negotiations to update the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

Shortly thereafter, by a 385-41 vote, the US House of Representatives approved a bill that puts in place terms of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.


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