Heaviest dimensional cargo via CP rail moves west from Duluth to Canada

Port of Duluth
Unloading large cargo at the Port of Duluth headed to Alberta

THUNDER BAY – The Port of Thunder Bay now has some competition from the Port of Duluth. Thunder Bay has shipped some large cargo out to the Oil Sands in Alberta. Now the Port of Duluth is doing the same large cargo shipments by rail.

This week marked a milestone in project cargo movement at the Head of the Lakes as crews handled the heaviest Canadian Pacific (CP) direct, single-line rail move from the Port of Duluth-Superior to western Canada.

Two, 300-ton dimensional transformers arrived at the Clure Public Marine Terminal in Duluth on Friday, Nov. 5. Both units were manufactured in Germany and shipped from Rotterdam aboard the BigLift freighter Tracer, along with multiple crates of accessories. Crews from Lake Superior Warehousing Co. discharged the high/wide/ heavy cargo directly onto specialized railcars waiting dockside

One of those specialized cars, a brand new 20-axle railcar managed by SRT, was just recently introduced into American service. A train comprised of this car and eight others (including a 16-axle railcar) left Duluth Tuesday and is making  its way along a 1,200-mile CP clearance route northwest to Lethbridge, Alberta, where the transformers will be installed and eventually power the Montana Alberta Tie Line – the first international merchant transmission line in North America.

CP Rail from Duluth to Alberta
CP Rail train headed to Alberta from Duluth

“When fully operational next year, the 214-mile transmission line will interconnect the electricity markets of Alberta and Montana,” said Paul Kos, Director of Engineering for Montana Alberta Tie Ltd, “opening up a huge potential for development in renewable energy projects in both countries.”  MATL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tonbridge Power, Inc., headquartered in Toronto.

“The Port of Duluth factored strategically in this single-line rail move,” said David Walker, Senior Manager, CP Logistics Solutions.  Since 2005, CP has handled the majority of wind energy components inbound to southern Alberta for wind energy projects in that region. “It’s great to see all of these projects finally getting connected,” added Walker.  “This transmission line will transform renewable energy into power for customers on both sides of the border.  CP is equally excited to have brought the two heaviest transformers through the Port of Duluth, one of our premier transloading partners.”

CP completed upgrades to bridge infrastructure in Minneapolis-St. Paul a couple of years ago in order to accommodate the movement of more oversized/dimensional cargo through Duluth. “When it comes to designing an end-to-end transportation solution,” noted Walker, “utilizing Duluth’s multimodal facility makes possible a single-line, cross-border rail haul that creates huge benefits for our customers.”

“This is a CP-served facility, with on-dock rail and intermodal transloading capabilities – the farthest inland port on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway,” said Jonathan Lamb, Vice President and General Manager of Lake Superior Warehousing Co., terminal operator for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority’s Clure Public Marine Terminal.  “Our location enables us to collaborate with key marine and railway companies involved in transportation logistics, not only for a transmission line project like this but also for renewable energy customers across the heartland.”

Lamb touted the Port of Duluth’s proven track record in handling dimensional freight for a number of energy-related projects, including nearly a million freight tons of wind turbine components delivered to projects in several countries including the U.S. and Canada.

“This move has proven to be a great example of the innovative collaborations being forged today,” added Walker, “shared efforts to provide solutions for the efficient, specialized transport of high/wide and heavy project cargo from its point of origin to an installation site halfway around the world.”

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