NAFTA superhighway rail element already underway in Canada

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Port sparks NAFTA super-railway challenge
Another national line plans ‘Asian gateway’ to North America
By Jerome R. Corsi
September 19, 2007
© 2007

Canadian National railway’s North America logo

With the focused development of the port in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, as an official “Asian Gateway,” Canadian National is positioned to compete with Canadian Pacific as the first truly continental NAFTA super-railroad, reaching from Canada to Mexico through the heart of the U.S. On Sept. 12, Canadian National used the opening of its new container terminal at Prince Rupert to declare the railroad the “Midwest Express,” a reference to its ambition to move containers of good manufactured in China into the heartland of North America through distribution hubs in Chicago and Memphis. James Foote, Canadian National’s vice president of sales and marketing, boasted Canadian National could move containers from China into the U.S. Midwest more quickly through Prince Rupert than through any other West Coast port, including Los Angeles and Long Beach.

According to the Canadian National website, the now-completed Phase I development of the Canadian National Prince Rupert container terminal has a capacity to handle 500,000 20-foot containers per year, growing to a 2 million container capacity in 2010, when Phase II development of the 150-acre facility is completed.

A video on the Canadian National website bills Prince Rupert as “North America’s Northwest Gateway,” stressing the 54th parallel location as the closest connection with the Far East and China, “shaving 30 hours shipping time for the shortest, quickest route across the Pacific.”“It’s all in the numbers,” Canadian National boasts, pointing out Prince Rupert is 5,286 miles from Hong Kong, while Los Angeles is 6,380 miles away. Also, Shanghai is 4,642 miles from Port Rupert but 5,810 miles from Los Angeles.”

Protected by the Queen Charlotte Islands, Prince Rupert is a natural deep-water tidal harbor easily capable of handling the new class of 12,500 container-capacity post-Panamax ships now being built for China.

The Canadian National route map can be conceptualized as a giant “T” that stretches across Canada from Prince Rupert and Vancouver in British Columbia to Halifax in Nova Scotia.

The Canadian National then crosses into the U.S. at Winnipeg and at Windsor, to complete the “T” through Detroit, Chicago and Memphis, ending up in the Louisiana Gulf Coast.

As WND reported, the route map of rival Canadian Pacific in the U.S. roughly parallels Interstate 35, while the Canadian National route map follows more the Mississippi River and roughly the proposed NAFTA superhighway route planned for Interstate 69.

A map on the Canadian National website shows containers from China will enter North America at Prince Rupert.

A secondary, southern route is shown on the Canadian National map, with Chinese containers traveling through the Panama Canal and linking up with Canadian National routes in Louisiana, or heading north into the Atlantic to connect with Canadian National in Halifax.

WND reported plans to build a deeper and wider Panama Canal are aimed at opening a route for Chinese post-Panamax container mega-ship from the Pacific to U.S. ports in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

To complete its route map into Mexico, Canadian National has marketing agreements in place with Kansas City Southern, or KCS.

KCS’s reach into Mexico qualifies it as a NAFTA railroad, but a combination between KCS and either Canadian National or Canadian Pacific is required before the configuration of a continental NAFTA super-railroad becomes apparent.

WND reported the Canadian Pacific acquisition of DM&E gives Canadian Pacific a connection with KCS at the Knoche Yard in Kansas City.

Thus, both Canadian National and rival Canadian Pacific rely on KCS to compete for the claim to be the first North American continental NAFTA railroad.

A route map on the Canadian National website shows the railroad connecting through KCS Mexican railroads down to the Mexican port Lazaro Cardenas, a port WND frequently has identified as another alternative to Los Angeles and Long Beach for containers from China to enter North America.

While the KCS marketing agreements give Canadian National the reach into Mexico, the Canadian National website emphasizes Prince Rupert as the railroad’s primary gateway for containers from China to enter North America.

Through Prince Rupert, Canadian National can transport containers from China along 100 percent Canadian National lines, down into the heartland of the U.S., from Detroit and Chicago south to the Louisiana coast.

Yet, Canadian National would have to partner with KCS to reach into Mexico to transport containers from China north from Lázaro Cárdenas.

As WND previously reported, KCS operating alone can already bring Chinese containers from the Mexican ports of Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas to Kansas City where Kansas City SmartPort is planning to be an “inland port” for switching Chinese containers to destinations east and west on U.S. rail lines.

For a brief period, 1993-1995, Canadian National operated under a CN North America logo, even entering into negotiations to acquire the rival Canadian Pacific.