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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Canada to fund expansion at Port Saint John, short line New Brunswick Southern

Canada to fund expansion at Port Saint John, short line New Brunswick Southern

By Bill Stephens | May 25, 2022

Projects will boost Canadian Pacific’s re-entry into Atlantic Canada

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Container train on bridge
A Canadian Pacific international intermodal train from the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick, heads west via the former Central Maine & Quebec on Aug. 11, 2020. The Canadian government will help fund improvements at the port and short-line connection New Brunswick Southern.
(Canadian Pacific)

OTTAWA, Ontario – The Canadian government said on Wednesday that it will spend $42 million to help fund capacity expansion projects at Port Saint John, New Brunswick, as well as to upgrade rail facilities in Saint John and McAdam on short line New Brunswick Southern.

The New Brunswick Southern and its sister short line, Eastern Maine Railway, are Canadian Pacific’s connection to Saint John.

Transport Canada will spend $21.16 million improving New Brunswick Southern track, bridges, and turnouts between Saint John and McAdam, which is near the Maine border, as well as on terminal capacity projects in the two communities. New Brunswick Southern, a subsidiary of J.D. Irving Ltd., will contribute the same amount.

Transport Canada will spend up to $21 million to increase capacity at Port Saint John’s container terminal. The Saint John Port Authority will contribute $4.2 million to the project, while the province will kick in $16.8 million.

CP, which last year began regular international intermodal service to Port Saint John in conjunction with shipping line Hapag-Lloyd, lauded the expansion projects that are being funded through Canada’s National Trade Corridors Fund.

Ship at dock with container cranes
Port Saint John is undergoing a major expansion of its container facilities. (Port Saint John)

“CP is excited to be back in Atlantic Canada and proud of the much-needed competition our return has brought to the freight transportation market in New Brunswick,” CEO Keith Creel said in a statement. “The additional investment announced today by the federal government and the Province of New Brunswick will make a significant impact for Port Saint John and for Canada’s supply chains. The funding will bring Port Saint John’s capacity up to 800,000 TEUs, almost tripling the Port’s existing capacity.”

CP in 2020 acquired short line Central Maine & Quebec, which once formed a part of the Class I’s shortcut from Montreal across Maine to Atlantic Canada. CP is spending $90 million to upgrade the former CMQ trackage, including boosting track speed to 40 mph from 25. CP currently offers intermodal service between Saint John and inland markets that include Toronto, Montreal, and Chicago.

The container port at Saint John is already in the midst of a $205 million expansion that will double annual capacity to 300,000 TEUs, or twenty-foot equivalents, by 2023. The project includes a second berth, expanding on-dock rail to 8,000 feet from 3,600, and enabling the terminal to handle ships up to 10,000 TEU from the current 6,500.

CN also serves the port via a connection with New Brunswick Southern, and is the sole railway to serve Atlantic Canada’s busiest container port at Halifax, Nova Scotia.

— Updated at 9 p.m. CDT on May 26 to clarify that improvement on New Brunswick Southern will include the rail line between Saint John and McAdam, as well as terminals.

3 thoughts on “Canada to fund expansion at Port Saint John, short line New Brunswick Southern

  1. Might we see CSX upgrade the former Pan Am mainline to Mattawamkeag, ME in the near future?

    One could see New Brunswick Southern-Eastern Maine Railway functioning almost as a longer range Pacific Harbor Lines at Port Saint John.

    Pacific Harbor lines puts a lot of stack trains together and forwards them to UP and BNSF at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

    NBS-EMR would be able to do the same, albeit with a longer initial haul, assembling and forwarding stack trains to CP at Brownville Junction and CSX at Mattawamkeag.

    CSX could potentially have a great route to Chicago and the Upper Midwest, not to mention the Greater New York area.

    As manufacturing shifts to Southeast Asia and South Asia, the container traffic potential for East Coast ports should continue to grow.

  2. The locals should be reminding CPR about how the railway abandoned them in the first place.

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