Today’s Pickup: Brexit soap opera, Netflix’ rail exploits, Portland freight hub


Good day,

Brexit over the past week has unfolded like a soap opera for the supply chain set. Every day brings a new cliffhanger — “Prime Minister Theresa May is out!” —  only to be followed by an anti-climax — “Wait! May is still in!” FreightWaves correspondent Nick Savvides has been chronicling the twists and turns of the “Deal— No deal Brexit” storyline;  his latest article features a gloomy Brussels-based Pauline Bastidon, head of European policy and Brexit for the Freight Transport Association, who told Savvides the risk of no deal has increased, “and we are telling all our members to accelerate their no deal preparations.”  Meanwhile, the Economist opined yesterday that a second referendum is the only way to change a storyline that petered out a long time ago. Stay tuned for the next episode.

Did you know?

Oakland’s containerized cargo volume reached an all-time high of 2.55 million 20-foot containers in 2018.  It was the second consecutive year of record volume at the Port.  Volume in 2018 was 5.2 percent higher than the total in 2017.  Import volume increased 5 percent while exports declined 3.5 percent.  Oakland saw a 19.7 percent increase in the transport of empty containers being repositioned for future import use.

Source, Port of Oakland, State of Port address, January 17, 2019


“She is the cockroach in nuclear winter. She is the algae that survives on sulphuric gas from subaquatic volcanoes, seven miles beneath the daylight. She is the Nokia 5210.”

——The Independent, describing the indestructible nature of British Prime Minister Theresa May

In other news:

Banking on disaster

Netflix in hot seat over use of Canadian oil train derailment footage. (Washington Post)

Dust up’s over

Egypt reopened five ports on Thursday that it had shut due to bad weather. (MaritimeProfessional)

Less CO2, more moolah

California program improves air quality and truck driver well-being. (Next City)

On the right track?

Canadian National and Canadian Pacific operations in British Columbia target of investigation by Canadian Transport agency. (TRN)

Final Thoughts

When it comes to freight business clusters, Portland, Oregon is no Los Angeles. It’s no San Francisco either, if you’re ranking cities by venture investment. Neither of these apparent deficits posed a problem for Max Lock, who decided to locate his digital freight forwarding startup, Fleet, in Portland, bypassing both of those California burgs. “What makes Portland special is not just the cost of living; it’s the work mentality here,” said Lock, the subject of a recent FreightWaves profile. The San Francisco tech vibe, Lock said, “felt a lot about the individual, whereas the mindset here more community, collaborative.” 

Plus, Portland does have roots in the shipping industry. Longtime freight businesses include XPO logistics (formerly Con-Way) DSV (formerly Uti) and DAT, located just a hop and skip from Fleet’s downtown offices. “There is a good size shipping community here outside of  L.A./Long Beach,” Lock said. “You pair that with good quality of life and a strong work ethic and you can’t lose.”

Hammer down, everyone! 

Show More

Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.