Home Truck News Fastfrate re-ups with CPKC securing private gate access, looks to expand LTL-by-rail...

Fastfrate re-ups with CPKC securing private gate access, looks to expand LTL-by-rail – Truck News

Fastfrate Group has inked a new five-year agreement with CPKC that gives it exclusive, private gate access to the railway’s co-located facilities and will help the companies jointly develop an unprecedented LTL-by-rail service linking Canada to Mexico.

The partnership will grow Fastfrate Group’s Canada Drayage Inc. (CDI) stature as what it claims to be the largest coast-to-coast drayage provider in Canada, while also making it the largest drayage provider to CPKC in North America.

CPKC locomotive with Fastfrate containers
(Photo: Fastfrate Group)

“Fastfrate and CPKC have had a successful and collaborative partnership for the past 58 years,” Fastfrate Group executive chairman Ron Tepper said in a release. “That being said, I’ve never been as excited as I am today given the size and scope of opportunities ahead. We’re honored to be CPKC’s longstanding partner in Canada, and excited about expansion into the U.S. and Mexico. This is great for us, great for them, and great for our clients.”

One of they key elements of the new deal is direct access to CPKC intermodal yards in Toronto and Montreal, through CDI’s own co-located facilities, using the latest gate technologies. Private gate access is “an industry first,” according to Jonathan Wahba, CPKC’s senior vice-president of sales and marketing.

And Fastfrate Group CEO Manny Calandrino says it will allow CDI’s owner-operators to get in an extra turn every day as a result of the time saved by accessing the intermodal yard through CDI’s own property. A lease-op making four turns a day could see their earnings jump by 25%, which Calandrino thinks will give the company a healthy recruitment advantage.

“We’re putting our money where our mouth is.”

Manny Calandrino, CEO, Fastfrate Group

“We should have a lineup of drivers [wanting to work for CDI],” he said in an interview with TruckNews.com. “There’ll be no more waiting time.”

Calandrino anticipates having about 400 CDI drivers serving the CPKC contract alone. But to gain this edge doesn’t come cheap. Fastfrate Group will invest $10 million in converting 15 acres at its Toronto location into a paved intermodal yard, where up to 3,000 containers can be stacked. The company will also take advantage of the special access to position containers at night so they’re ready to be picked up and delivered first thing the next morning.

“We’re putting our money where our mouth is,” Calandrino said of the investment, noting the trucking company will also share the cost of implementing the gate technology with CPKC.

LTL-by-rail

The new agreement between Fastfrate Group and CPKC also gives it improved access to the burgeoning Mexico market, on a direct line connecting Canada to Mexico. It’s already shipping about 30 loads a week between the two countries and has recently purchased 200 intermodal containers to support this expanding service.

“We’re going to have the ability to access both CPKC boxes and our boxes,” Calandrino explained of the new containers.

Tepper said the company will replicate the LTL-by-rail service it currently offers from east to west in Canada – to the tune of about 7 million pounds a day – along the north-south route from Canada to Mexico. He estimates this can be done at about 60-70% of the cost of shipping by truck. These LTL intermodal shipments will hit cities en route such as Chicago, Dallas, Monterrey, “and everything in between.”

Tepper anticipates having the new LTL rail service – previously unavailable in the U.S. – up and running within the next 12 months.

Challenger truck
Fastfrate has also been investing in trucking facilities that will benefit Challenger, its latest acquisition. (Photo: Challenger Motor Freight)

Trucking growth, too

Aside from investing in its intermodal and drayage offerings, Fastfrate Group is also growing its trucking network, bolstered by its 2022 acquisition of Challenger Motor Freight.

This May it plans to begin construction on a new facility in Ottawa that will sit on 15 acres of land. Challenger has been given a Winnipeg home for the first time, sharing space with sister company ASL Distribution Services but having its own shop on the 25-acre site. Fastfrate Group has secured land in Regina for a future facility there, and in Saint-Remi, Que., near Montreal, it recently purchased a 20-acre property for Challenger that will boast easier border access and more space.

Meanwhile, Challenger’s largest customer segment by commodity is automotive, with auto parts coming north to Canada from plants in Mexico and racks being sent back south. This could potentially shift to rail, Calandrino said, given the recent enhancements to its relationship with CPKC. And Challenger welcomes the opportunity to shift some of that freight off the roads.

“For the automotive industry, rail is environmentally, financially, and operationally more efficient,” Jim Peeples, CEO of Challenger Motor Freight, said in a release. “We’re now gearing up to handle automotive by rail, we expect – and are preparing for a huge demand.”


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