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Union Pacific Southern California Network Disrupted by Tropical Storm Hilary, Panama Canal Authority Corrects Misleading Congestion Figures, UPS Contract Overwhelmingly Ratified by Teamsters

Aug 24, 2023

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Panama Canal Authority corrects misleading congestion figures. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is addressing recent misleading reports about congestion at the waterway’s ends that suggested there are 200 ships waiting to enter. Current data indicates 131 ships waiting, up 45% from average, but down from 165 earlier this month. ACP reduced daily transits by 20% last month due to severe drought, also lowering maximum draft for its neopanamax locks by about 2 meters. While rain has returned, ACP is cautious due to potential El Niño effects, acknowledging a possible $200m earnings loss next year if conditions continue.


Proposed rule on emissions could limit volumes at Southern California ports. A regional port authority may be created in Southern California later this year, rendering the existing port authorities of Los Angeles and Long Beach obsolete. Pending approval, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), representing Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, plans to establish a Port Indirect Source Rule (ISR) for the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports by December 2023. This rule aims to limit cargo volumes at the busiest container gateway in the U.S., according to the Journal of Commerce.

Port of Oswego gets $4m grant for upgrades. The Port of Oswego, located on Lake Ontario’s New York shore, has secured a $4 million federal grant to enhance cargo equipment and rail infrastructure. The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) funding will increase export capacity, benefiting local businesses aiming for global markets. CSX serves the port, which also has access to major highways. The grant will be used for a telescopic shiploader conveyor and rail track upgrades, supplemented by a $1 million local contribution. “The Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America agenda is improving our infrastructure and strengthening American supply chain resilience,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a Tuesday release. “This EDA investment will increase export capacity at the Port of Oswego to create new economic opportunity in the region.”


UPS contract overwhelmingly ratified by Teamsters. The Teamsters union members at UPS Inc. have overwhelmingly approved a five-year contract, with 86.3% of voters ratifying it, marking the largest margin in their history of negotiations. Approximately 58% of eligible voters participated, the highest percentage in UPS-Teamster contract history. While all 44 supplemental agreements were ratified, the national agreement’s implementation awaits renegotiation and ratification of a supplement involving Florida members. The contract includes wage increases, with the highest raise in the first year and smaller increases in subsequent years.


Canadian port-bound rail volumes near prestrike levels. Following recent labor strikes, rail volumes at the Canadian West Coast ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert have largely reverted to regular levels, although overall train volumes are still catching up, according to rail network visibility provider RailState. “We’re constantly monitoring volume movements across the rail network in Canada and it appears that rail traffic is returning to a status quo,” John Schmitter, RailState co-founder and chief commercial officer, said in a Friday news release. “We haven’t seen a big increase in volume, and an expectation that the railroads have unused capacity sitting around that can quickly be brought on line to clear what’s built up isn’t reasonable. The decreased volume seen in July will take a long time to resolve or it is lost for good.” Get a more in depth look from FreightWaves here.

Union Pacific’s Southern California network disrupted by Tropical Storm Hilary. Heavy rains and flooding from Tropical Storm Hilary disrupted Union Pacific’s network in Southern California earlier this week, forcing the railway to put parts of its network out of service, according to FreightWaves. In the latest operations update from Union Pacific regarding Southern California, the railway said: “Between Banning and Indio, California (Yuma subdivision) – Early this morning, we reopened one of the two tracks that traverses the bridge outage. At this point we are estimating that the bridge and corresponding track work will take approximately two weeks to repair. Although we have returned one track to service to this impacted area, it will take multiple days to work through the backlog of trains. We will also need to re-balance locomotive power and crews to the region and customers should expect extended delays during this recovery effort.”


Canadian airports receive $77m in funding for new cargo projects. Transport Canada is investing $77 million in new cargo infrastructure at Toronto and Ottawa airports through the National Trade Corridors Fund. Toronto Pearson International Airport will receive $69 million for a new cargo terminal and freighter parking apron. Additionally, Canadian North is doubling its cargo terminal size at Ottawa International Airport with a $16.3 million investment shared by Transport Canada, aiming for it to be fully operational by 2026.


Northern European ports experience YOY throughput declines. Despite a significant boost in trade with North America and India during the first half of the year, the Port of Hamburg, Europe’s third-largest container shipping hub, experienced a nearly 12% year-over-year decrease in throughput, totaling 3.8 million TEUs. This decline was more prominent compared to larger North European competitors Rotterdam and Antwerp. Rotterdam saw an 8.2% drop to 6.7 million TEUs, and Antwerp reported a 5.2% decrease to 6.4 million TEUs in the first-half throughput.


Food freshness sensors could impact supply chains and reduce food waste. Packaging labels indicating expiration dates can lead to confusion and food wastage. Worldwide, companies and researchers are exploring alternatives like inks, pH sensors, and hydrogels to address this issue, which could lead to supply chain changes. Read more from SupplyChainDive here.