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Halifax seeks funding for rail improvements

Now that moving container operations to a new location is unlikely, Halifax is looking for funding to improve rail access to Halterm.

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Halifax seeks funding for rail improvements

The Port of Halifax has announced it has started a discussion with its tenants and CN Rail on “how to better use existing assets and infrastructure” as it seeks to find ways to reduce port-related traffic in downtown Halifax.


Halifax has been growing strongly since Canada signed a trade agreement with the EU, and is currently undertaking a “temporary” expansion to its South End container terminal (Halterm) to accommodate two large vessels simultaneously, while considering longer term options for a more significant increase in capacity.


The port was considering relocating all its container operations to the Dartmouth side of the harbour, where a site was identified, but this would likely be prohibitively expensive.


“The construction of a terminal in Dartmouth was found to have significant costs, constrained maximum capacity, long development timelines, high development risks, and significant environmental impacts. The estimated cost in 2017 to construct a terminal in Dartmouth was $1.415 Billion CAD plus land acquisition cost for the terminal and a rail line, with an earliest completion date in the early-to-middle 2030s. Furthermore, the development timeline for a terminal in Dartmouth would cause diversion of substantial traffic to competing U.S. ports by the time it would be put into commercial service,” the port stated.


While it expands Halterm, the port also needs to address rail capacity, as it considers "future cargo growth through the Port of Halifax will be rail-based, connecting inland markets to Europe and Southeast Asia through our international Ultra-Class vessel gateway”. Details of the rail plan are not known at this stage, but the port has submitted an application for funding through the National Trade Corridors Fund. This is a C$2 billion fund set up by the Canadian Federal Government to support infrastructure projects that improve the flow of goods and help support international trade. The funding will be spread out over 11 years, ending March 31, 2028.

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