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Flooding cuts off Port of Vancouver rail service

Terminal disruptions, vessel delays expected after storm shuts down portions of CN, CP network

The Port of Vancouver isn't reachable by CN and CP trains because of flooding. (Photo: Mike W./Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Flooding and landslides in British Columbia have cut off the Port of Vancouver from all rail services as officials warned on Tuesday of forthcoming vessel delays and disruptions to terminal operations.

Significant portions of CN (NYSE:CNI) and Canadian Pacific (NYSE:CP) rail lines serving the port — Canada’s largest — were shut down after heavy rain pounded the province and the Pacific Northwest. The consequences likely will be felt throughout the Canadian supply chain, adding delays for shipments of everything from containers to bulk commodities. 

“Vessel delays and heightened anchorage demand are expected due to disruptions to terminal operations,” port spokesperson Matti Polychronis wrote in an email. “We are working closely with our terminal operators, railways, and all levels of government to understand the impacts of these delays on terminal operations and to develop a recovery plan.”

As of Tuesday night, the port reported 32 vessels at anchor.

Over the summer, Vancouver was hit with another major disruption to rail service caused by wildfires. It led to significant backlogs that were felt for weeks.

The disruption comes as Vancouver handles record amounts of cargo. The port reported a 24% increase in container volumes and a 7% increase in overall cargo volumes for the first six months of 2021.

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Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected]