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CN Milton Logistics Hub

afransen

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Trucks inherently use more energy. If battery trucks make sense, it won't be too long before battery trains make sense, and they are 5x more efficient. What autonomous electric trucks do is carve out a (larger) niche between air and rail transportation. You can have shipments roll essentially non-stop across the continent, and without having to pay for a driver. It will cost more than rail, but it will take less than half the time. LA to Toronto door to door in <48h. Fresh food (produce) is an obvious market for that. But many companies pay a premium for air freight for high value density products.

Absolutely zero chance rail transportation disappears.
 

lenaitch

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Sadly, the actions of CN's CEO don't inspire confidence in the future of intermodal. At the rate AV adoption is going, this terminal might not last 10 years in service. In fact, in 10-20 years, there might not even be rail freight in Ontario.

What rate would that be?
 

innsertnamehere

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That is far too extreme a statement. For one moment, if we assumed fully autonomous trucks were the norm in 2 decades time; they still wouldn't be competitive for most long-haul freight.

A 16M truck is not remotely competitive with a 2km train for what it can move.

*****


Not sure which thing your referencing here.

But for clarity, I think autonomous trucks will be here in 20 years time, perhaps sooner, though not instantly the norm, of course.

But I would also agree they are not a threat to derail long-haul freight rail whatsover.

What they may do is poach some shortline business, and some 'last mile' traffic etc.
I meant complete elimination of freight trains. I fully believe autonomous trucks are only a few years away, especially for long range interstate / freeway routes. They just won’t replace rail freight.
 

crs1026

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^One has to consider the cost of maintaining all the roads that will be needed to absorb all those autonomous trucks. The truck may be cheaper to operate from the tires up, but the cost of the roads will grow. Automation may halp with throughput, but congestion will still increase.

I don’t see autonomous trucks eliminating the need for the Milton facility. But EV drayage would have a big impact on the adverse effects on air quality that the EA pointed to.

- Paul
 

Northern Light

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^One has to consider the cost of maintaining all the roads that will be needed to absorb all those autonomous trucks. The truck may be cheaper to operate from the tires up, but the cost of the roads will grow. Automation may halp with throughput, but congestion will still increase.

I don’t see autonomous trucks eliminating the need for the Milton facility. But EV drayage would have a big impact on the adverse effects on air quality that the EA pointed to.

- Paul

Points to Paul for using the word Drayage in a sentence! Its not one you see that often outside of logistics circles.
 

afransen

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^One has to consider the cost of maintaining all the roads that will be needed to absorb all those autonomous trucks. The truck may be cheaper to operate from the tires up, but the cost of the roads will grow. Automation may halp with throughput, but congestion will still increase.

I don’t see autonomous trucks eliminating the need for the Milton facility. But EV drayage would have a big impact on the adverse effects on air quality that the EA pointed to.

- Paul
Frankly, EAs are bit of a joke if they don't consider how technology will change.
 

crs1026

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Frankly, EAs are bit of a joke if they don't consider how technology will change.

I’m actually surprised at how CN is handling the public relations opportunity in EV’s.....compared to how, say, Metrolinx would handle it.

As with transit buses, EV trucks are inevitable but only barely ready for prime time, but public transit operators are eager to roll out a few demonstrators just to say they are working on things. CN has their own branded trucks doing drayage (a very old word from horse and wagon days, btw) to and from BIT .... why would they not announce a partnership with some EV truck manufacturer and put even a couple of the demonstrators on the road, painted distinctively, perhaps delivering to whatever intermodal customer is closest to downtown Milton? Lots of room for photo ops, public visibility, moves CN’s position from “adversary” to “public-spirited company responding to public concern with good news solutions”.

Perhaps there is a risk that such gestures in advance of EA approval might create tbinding targets or direction...... x%EV usage within 5 years kind of thing. CN may feel EV transition is too uncertain to say very much that they could be held to. Perhaps that’s sensible.... but consider the contrast to say ML....who habitually overpromise and then forget that any commitment or target date was ever declared...There must be a middle ground.... at least put a green roof on the security guard’s shack at the front gate, ferpetessake, just for appearances.

CN clearly has taken the approach that they are a private business and are protected by federal law from any popular or political accommodation. It’s almost like they want to remind people that they are untouchable. Not many private businesses are this aloof towards the public. Perhaps CN fears what other accommodations they might be lobbied towards.

In a world where perception is almost reality, a couple de minimus but promising PR gestures might soften public reaction. CN really has been heavy handed on this proposal.

What would Steven Del Duca and Phil Verster have done, is all I’m saying. Not asking for that, but somewhere in the middle....

- Paul
 
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2transpo

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I don't want to go much further into this, but it isn't wise to dismiss the threat from AV and EV trucks to rail. There is legitimate panic in the industry that their adoption will undo decades of hard work. These are some good information sources and I highly recommend you give them a read:




Elon Musk is betting hard on electric AV trucks. He even says they will be cheaper than rail.

The important thing to remember is that shippers choose rail because it is more cost-effective. The problem is that when the cost spread between trucking and rail becomes smaller, shipper will want to use trucking more so they can get better customer service, cargo visibility and much faster delivery times (which are expected to become even faster without the need for driver rest breaks). Rail is very truck competitive and by many estimates will lose 1/3 to 1/2 of all traffic. That will be enough to bankrupt CN and CP. It is probably why CN is focusing a lot on their trucking division and investing in TuSimple. It is conceivable that CN's trucking line will become their primary business. Remember that the trucking market is larger than the rail market. While this may be difficult to conceive of out west, remember that in the east, our rail freight lines are relatively quiet. The 400 series highways do move more freight than the railways in Ontario.

I believe we will see our rail network cut to about 1/3 of its current size be 2050 and fairly quiet with fewer trains.
 

AHK

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I’m actually surprised at how CN is handling the public relations opportunity in EV’s.....compared to how, say, Metrolinx would handle it.

As with transit buses, EV trucks are inevitable but only barely ready for prime time, but public transit operators are eager to roll out a few demonstrators just to say they are working on things. CN has their own branded trucks doing drayage (a very old word from horse and wagon days, btw) to and from BIT .... why would they not announce a partnership with some EV truck manufacturer and put even a couple of the demonstrators on the road, painted distinctively, perhaps delivering to whatever intermodal customer is closest to downtown Milton? Lots of room for photo ops, public visibility, moves CN’s position from “adversary” to “public-spirited company responding to public concern with good news solutions”.

Perhaps there is a risk that such gestures in advance of EA approval might create tbinding targets or direction...... x%EV usage within 5 years kind of thing. CN may feel EV transition is too uncertain to say very much that they could be held to. Perhaps that’s sensible.... but consider the contrast to say ML....who habitually overpromise and then forget that any commitment or target date was ever declared...There must be a middle ground.... at least put a green roof on the security guard’s shack at the front gate, ferpetessake, just for appearances.

CN clearly has taken the approach that they are a private business and are protected by federal law from any popular or political accommodation. It’s almost like they want to remind people that they are untouchable. Not many private businesses are this aloof towards the public. Perhaps CN fears what other accommodations they might be lobbied towards.

In a world where perception is almost reality, a couple de minimus but promising PR gestures might soften public reaction. CN really has been heavy handed on this proposal.

What would Steven Del Duca and Phil Verster have done, is all I’m saying. Not asking for that, but somewhere in the middle....

- Paul

As an FYI - some news from August 2020:

The Lion Electric Co. Receives Largest Order to Date​


CN Adds Up to 50 Intermodal Trucks to its Order

MONTREAL, Aug. 31, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) and The Lion Electric Co. announced today that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for CN to acquire 50 zero-emission trucks by CN as part of its fleet of trucks for intermodal use. The trucks will be used in CN's intermodal terminals in urban areas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.​

In April of 2019, CN launched a pilot program to test the use of custom-built electric trucks engineered by Quebec-based The Lion Electric Co. These zero-emission trucks, slated for intermodal use, will be tested in a variety of situations and environments across the CN network, from urban delivery, container shuttle service, to port operations. The Lion trucks do not produce any noise pollution and will remove 100 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the road annually.​

“By focusing on electric vehicles, CN and Lion are playing a leadership role in the transition to the economy of the future. This will help fight climate change and creates good jobs here. It's exactly the kind of investment needed for a greener, more innovative economic recovery.”
- The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons​

“The Quebec government believes in a sustainable economic recovery. I am pleased that The Lion Electric Company and CN are able to work together to contribute to the electrification of transportation, which is a very effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec. We can be proud of these two companies that want to do business and showcase our know-how while fighting climate change.”
- Benoit Charrette, Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change​

“CN is showing leadership by acquiring 50 all-electric Lion trucks. This order, the largest for Lion Electric Co. yet, is a sign of confidence in our company and that now is the time for the electrification of heavy transportation. Aside from being zero-emission, I believe the Lion electric trucks will be an invaluable addition to CN’s operations. I hope this deal inspires everyone who is looking for an economical, sustainable and environmental transportation solution to switch to electric vehicles.”
- Marc Bédard, President and Founder of The Lion Electric Co.​

“​
 

afransen

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I’m actually surprised at how CN is handling the public relations opportunity in EV’s.....compared to how, say, Metrolinx would handle it.

As with transit buses, EV trucks are inevitable but only barely ready for prime time, but public transit operators are eager to roll out a few demonstrators just to say they are working on things. CN has their own branded trucks doing drayage (a very old word from horse and wagon days, btw) to and from BIT .... why would they not announce a partnership with some EV truck manufacturer and put even a couple of the demonstrators on the road, painted distinctively, perhaps delivering to whatever intermodal customer is closest to downtown Milton? Lots of room for photo ops, public visibility, moves CN’s position from “adversary” to “public-spirited company responding to public concern with good news solutions”.

Perhaps there is a risk that such gestures in advance of EA approval might create tbinding targets or direction...... x%EV usage within 5 years kind of thing. CN may feel EV transition is too uncertain to say very much that they could be held to. Perhaps that’s sensible.... but consider the contrast to say ML....who habitually overpromise and then forget that any commitment or target date was ever declared...There must be a middle ground.... at least put a green roof on the security guard’s shack at the front gate, ferpetessake, just for appearances.

CN clearly has taken the approach that they are a private business and are protected by federal law from any popular or political accommodation. It’s almost like they want to remind people that they are untouchable. Not many private businesses are this aloof towards the public. Perhaps CN fears what other accommodations they might be lobbied towards.

In a world where perception is almost reality, a couple de minimus but promising PR gestures might soften public reaction. CN really has been heavy handed on this proposal.

What would Steven Del Duca and Phil Verster have done, is all I’m saying. Not asking for that, but somewhere in the middle....

- Paul
Well, I was reading through the Dundas BRT IBC, and noted that they assumed that the buses will be diesel powered. It's a shocking failure of imagination. I can see them not assuming the buses will be autonomous (that is more speculative), but it seems obvious to anyone whose job it is to pay attention to transportation that EVs are going to displace ICE vehicles. We can debate timing, but on the scale of EAs, or IBCs, for projects that won't be realized for the better part of a decade, it seems negligent not to consider that EVs will be strong contender if not the only realistic choice for vehicles in 10 years.
 

TorPronto

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I don't want to go much further into this, but it isn't wise to dismiss the threat from AV and EV trucks to rail. There is legitimate panic in the industry that their adoption will undo decades of hard work. These are some good information sources and I highly recommend you give them a read:




Elon Musk is betting hard on electric AV trucks. He even says they will be cheaper than rail.

The important thing to remember is that shippers choose rail because it is more cost-effective. The problem is that when the cost spread between trucking and rail becomes smaller, shipper will want to use trucking more so they can get better customer service, cargo visibility and much faster delivery times (which are expected to become even faster without the need for driver rest breaks). Rail is very truck competitive and by many estimates will lose 1/3 to 1/2 of all traffic. That will be enough to bankrupt CN and CP. It is probably why CN is focusing a lot on their trucking division and investing in TuSimple. It is conceivable that CN's trucking line will become their primary business. Remember that the trucking market is larger than the rail market. While this may be difficult to conceive of out west, remember that in the east, our rail freight lines are relatively quiet. The 400 series highways do move more freight than the railways in Ontario.

I believe we will see our rail network cut to about 1/3 of its current size be 2050 and fairly quiet with fewer trains.
On the question of bankruptcy, I do wonder as my understanding is that a significant amount of cargo is coal and oil which both have large drops in volume within the next decade
 

Allandale25

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January 21st statement from the local MP.


But that does not mean that it is an inevitability. We are not at the finish line, or even the start line for this project. Shovels are not going in the ground, and I remain steadfastly opposed to this development. There is a Canadian Transport Agency process, and the Minister is very aware of my objections to this project. There is a Provincial court case involving the Region of Halton, and many other hurdles for CN to attempt to clear before this is over.

Every elected official in our region and the vast majority of our neighbours are united in our opposition to the location of this industrial project. This fight is far from over. Our voices will continue to be heard, and you can continue to count on me to keep fighting for our community.

Adam

I had forgot about the provincial court case. I wonder how long that will take.
 

2transpo

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If I was CN, I wouldn't build this terminal. The restrictions are too great. Like 800 trucks per day? That's only half of their anticipated demand. The terminal will be too congested. It isn't worth it. They might as well start looking for other locations or maybe don't build a new one at all. Highway 413 might negate the need for an intermodal terminal by adding capacity for OTR trucking.
 

crs1026

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If I was CN, I wouldn't build this terminal. The restrictions are too great. Like 800 trucks per day? That's only half of their anticipated demand. The terminal will be too congested. It isn't worth it. They might as well start looking for other locations or maybe don't build a new one at all. Highway 413 might negate the need for an intermodal terminal by adding capacity for OTR trucking.

They need the terminal. Their Brampton terminal is choking.

I don’t know their intended operational plan, but intuitively this location provides a hub for Chicago/Buffalo/Montreal/Halifax traffic that keeps same out of BIT. That leaves BIT for transcontinental traffic. Or maybe one or two transcontinental trains come this far to serve Southern Ontario, or blocks are dropped here.

It’s a poor location from an urban planning perspective, but”no terminal” is not an option.

- Paul
 

Allandale25

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^ I'm sure this has been discussed or thought of and I'm certainly not an expert, but I wonder if CN considered converting part of their existing MacMillan Yard to handle intermodal? It looks like from Google Maps the southern and western portions are less used now and hasn't some of the hump capabilities been removed? It reminds me of what CP did to Agincourt. Of course I'm sure CN may want to preserve the capacity and given how long and hard they fought for the Milton site I assume they exhausted all options.
 

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