City Seen as Ideal Rail Hub for Canada, Mexico Trade

Article excerpt

WINNIPEG is being touted as a distribution centre for frozen foods shipped by rail between Canada and Mexico.

Delegates attending a two-day supply-management conference in Winnipeg were told Thursday trucks are currently the mode of choice for hauling frozen food by land between Canada and Mexico.

But railway and transportation industry officials said it's just a matter of time before some of those shipments start moving by rail. And when they do, Winnipeg would be an obvious choice to serve as a national distribution centre because of its central location and its excellent north-south railway connections, they said.

Conference chairman Barry Prentice, a supply-chain-management professor with the University of Manitoba's Transport Institute, said Canada already exports a lot of frozen pork, beef and french fries to Mexico and imports frozen fruits and vegetables from Mexico.

And rail is a cheaper and more environmentally friendly way to ship goods over long distances, he said, which makes it more sustainable for the long term. Prentice and railway officials admitted a lot of things have to happen before refrigerated rail cars and intermodal containers start flowing between Winnipeg and Mexico.

For starters, the railways, importers and exporters have to get on board. And refrigerated warehouses with rail connections will be needed here and in Mexico to handle the shipments.

But Prentice said there are already three railways operating out of Winnipeg -- CN, CP and Burlington Northern Santa Fe -- that connect directly with railways that haul goods in and out of Mexico. …