Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) is making a play for perishables. The Canadian rail company has launched a service called CP TempPro that targets temperature-sensitive types of cargo, from seafood and produce over fresh and frozen meats to dairy, frozen food and pharmaceuticals.
The introduction of the service comes after the purchase of 41 generator sets for reefer containers last year. These can support a new reefer repositioning programme, which creates new shipping options for domestic shippers and offer improved round-trip economics for international customers, the company stated.
Further measures to boost CP’s perishables capabilities are afoot. The company has signalled that it intends to invest in more than 400 new 53-foot reefer units. In addition, management plans to deploy a new refrigeration system from cool chain technology provider Thermo King. According to CP, it will be the first player to use the new system, which can accommodate two additional pallets and is using a more environmentally friendly refrigerant.
“CP is committed to giving our customers everything they need as one total transportation product, which is why CP TempPro is a great addition to our roster of services,” said Jonathan Wahba, vice-president, sales and marketing, intermodal and automotive.
Rival Canadian National moved to attract perishables traffic in 2015 when it invested some C$20 million (US$15.5 million) in the expansion of its CargoCool service, which is equipped with an advanced monitoring system to detect temperature variations from the designated setting. At the time it acquired 200 53-foot temperature-controlled containers and 32 generators.
CP management has emphasized that the TempPro offering is for both domestic and international moves and stressed that it has direct service between the port of Vancouver and the Ohio Valley as well as direct intermodal service between Vancouver and Detroit, which it claims to be the most direct on that route.
Perishables shippers and forwarders are increasingly looking to rail for international shipments. In February DB Schenker operated a block train to move 160 tonnes of fresh vegetables from Chengdu to Moscow. The shipment of 11 reefer containers for Rollink, a China-based food trading company, took 16 days for the 9,000 km journey that was routed via Inner Mongolia.
The Germany-based forwarder, which is owned by the German Rail company, is bullish on perishables flows between China and Europe.
“We will see strong growth in the next decade along with China’s [Belt and Road] strategy, and I believe the entire development now through the Silk Road corridors will bring us good opportunities in developing multimodal solutions,” said Caraka Keung, director for the west China region. “This is an important milestone for us to achieve our leading market position in the logistics of perishable goods in China.”
Last summer DB Schenker strengthened its presence in the perishables logistics market in China when it secured a contract with perishables import/export firm Sichuan JiuYe Export to provide logistics services. JiuYe performs cross-border supply chain services to companies in the agriculture sector, perishables e-commerce providers and food producers both in China and abroad. Its main export market is Eastern Europe, which lends itself well to rail transportation out of China.
In early March Nunner Logistics entered the rail market between Europe and China with the launch of a Silk Road container rail service that runs from Amsterdam to Yiwu. The first train to make the 11,000 km journey through Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan departed on March 7 and was expected to arrive at its Chinese destination 16 days later. Besides machinery, technical equipment and chemicals, it also carried pharmaceuticals.
Meanwhile, e-tailers and express operators in China are increasingly turning to rail for domestic traffic. In February JD.com teamed up with China Railway Corp. to start trials of parcel shipments on the high-speed rail corridor between Beijing and Shanghai. Over the past year JD.com has put more focus on perishables.
ZTO Express started offering fresh produce delivery services in 2016. Last summer the company beefed up its use of rail for perishables deliveries within China when it added high-speed rail links from Kunming to Beijing and Shanghai. The move extended the company’s fresh product delivery network to eight high-speed rail links, in addition to air freight connections linking 12 airports across China.
By Ian Putzger
Correspondent | Toronto