Railroads restoring limited service to Port of Vancouver

A limited rail service was restored to the Port of Vancouver, Canada on November 23rd after torrential rains had washed out roads and rail lines in the province of British Columbia more than a week earlier.

However, there was a forecast of more significant rains this week, and even if everything ran smoothly it would take time to rebalance the heavily disrupted supply lines, officials said.

The Thompson and Fraser Valley regions had received as much as 12 inches of rain on November 14th and 15th, leading to widespread flooding, mudslides, and significant damage to the infrastructure, as well as several fatalities. For a time, Vancouver was almost completely cut off from Eastern Canada and fuel had to be rationed, with emergency supplies being sent from Washington State across the US-Canada border. This week crews have been able to reopen major highways for at least essential travel, although they warned of detours, intermittent closures, and traffic restrictions, all of which added to the supply chain disruption in both Western and Eastern Canada.

The Port of Vancouver said that it had been able to restore some truck operations, with some two-thirds of all the containers at the port normally moved by rail, significant disruption was inevitable. Earlier this week there were 68 ships at the Port of Vancouver, with 23 on dock and 45 at anchor. The port reported that the inner harbour anchorages were full, with demand in all areas being high and nearing capacity. There have been no grain-loading operations at the port. There were 17 grain ships at anchor, plus 11 coal carriers and seven container ships. Canada is one of the world’s biggest grain exporters.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth warned that additional heavy rains could be expected in the coming weeks. He also warned of snowmelt, because  temperatures were rising in some of the higher elevations.