CN underlines benefits of Québec container terminal project

Canada’s largest railroad sees a proposed container terminal in the Beauport sector of the Port of Québec as a strategic gateway to capture market share from the Port of New York and New Jersey especially in the U.S. Midwest. “Our vision for Québec City is a port which would do a lot of rail like we do in Prince Rupert,” CN President Jean-Jacques Ruest said on the occasion of a speech at the Canadian Club of Montreal on Jan. 13.

Last May, the Québec Port Authority announced the signing of a long-term joint venture with CN and global terminal operator Hutchison Ports to build a $775 million intermodal terminal known as the Laurentia project with container capacity of 700,000 TEU and slated for start-up in 2024. Such a terminal would mark a return of the predominantly bulk-shipping Port of Quebec to a cargo sector it lost in the four decades ago after CP Ships, later acquired by Hapag-Lloyd, shifted its North Atlantic service to Montreal.

Mr. Ruest noted that CN will have rail access to the Port of Montreal’s proposed container facility at Contrecoeur and CN was also involved in discussions for possible expansion at the Port of Halifax. “More and more you will see us do commercial and financial alliances with partners to ensure the Eastern Canadian ports play an important role in the U.S. Midwest,” he added, according to a report published in The Gazette.

The management team of the Port of Québec has so far presented the Laurentia project to nine regional chambers of commerce and economic development groups in eastern Quebec.

Formal launching of the Laurentia project hinges on infrastructure funding and securing federal government environmental approval.

As regards the latter, opposition has been growing among local environmental activists. A petition demanding the scrapping of the project received more than 15,000 signatures last year. Opponents affirm that construction would have a “permanent negative” impact on area wildlife, pollute central neighbourhoods and isolate a lone public beach. (Artist rendering of Laurentia project by Québec Port Authority.