Imminent Strike in Montreal, Major Rail Delays, Port Congestion, and Chassis Shortage


In our ongoing efforts to keep you informed of the current market climate and anything that might impact the movement of your freight, we wanted to make sure you are aware of the following noteworthy items:

The BNSF Rail Announces Major Restrictions

The BNSF has put into place the following restrictions, effective immediately and until further notice:

  • The St. Louis BNSF is enforcing a daily allocation of 5 units in-gating at the St. Louis ramp for ALL destinations.
  • The Memphis BNSF is enforcing a daily allocation of 5 units in-gating at the Memphis ramp to the West Coast.
  • The Los Angeles BNSF has closed Los Angeles in-gates to all destinations due to a train derailment on the mainline in Ludlow, CA. This closure impacts both Hobart and Commerce ramps. This derailment has impacted all main tracks, and an estimated re-opening date has not been determined at this time.
  • Atlanta BNSF’s shared facility with CSX-Fairburn is closed until further notice.
  • Montana BNSF reported an avalanche that occurred on 3/3. This may cause delays of up to 24 hours on traffic moving between Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Cicero and St. Paul.

Ongoing Congestion at US Ports and Abroad

Please be advised that the extreme port congestion we have been facing since late 2020 is still ongoing. At a minimum, delays of 2-3 weeks should be expected. The most heavily clogged ports are Los Angeles/Long Beach and New York, but this is trickling down to other ports as well. In addition, the ports are so congested in the US that it’s impacting the vessels sailing from China and also the UK. Vessels cannot leave on time because they have nowhere to go once they arrive to the United States ports.

Trucker & Chassis Shortages

The ongoing challenging trucking situation is still causing issues as well. There is a shortage of drivers, and many carriers are booked out 2-3 weeks. The lines to get into port are long, and in some cases the driver’s are sitting in line all day without ever getting into port to recover a container. Due to this, rates are quite volatile and are changing often. Additionally, due to the backlog of containers stuck both overseas and at the ports here, there is a massive shortage of chassis. In many cases we are seeing containers that have to sit longer than normal because the trucker cannot obtain a chassis.

Possible Port Strike In Montreal

The Port of Montreal Longshoremen’s Union (CUPE) and the Maritime Employers Association (MEA), in collaboration with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service completed on February 28th, another continuous 4-day negotiation period. Unfortunately, parties did not reach an agreement. There has been an announcement that the priority of the MEA and the CUPE remains to reach a settlement. As a result, the truce reached back in August 2020 will remain in effect until March 21, 2021. If an agreement is not reached by that time, a strike is possible.

We know that 2021 has already presented many difficulties, and we appreciate your continued support. Rest assured that we are committed to keeping your freight moving and delivering exceptional customer service, even in the face of these enormous challenges.

Please feel free to reach out to your customer service representative or salesperson if you have any questions.