Mapping and Capacity of the Western Canadian Freight Transportation System (2009-2010)

Mr. Davies was Deputy Project Manager for a project headed by CPCS Transcom to analyze the capacity of the Western Canadian Freight Transportation System for Transport Canada. The principal purpose of the project was to identify potential bottlenecks in the Western Canadian highway and rail systems and provide recommendations for capital investments to maintain the ability of the transportation system to accommodate growth in Asia-Pacific gateway traffic.

Detailed GIS mapping of the road and rail systems in the four Western Provinces was undertaken. The system was divided into uniform segments based on current infrastructure characteristics, topography, and other variables influencing capacity. Current freight traffic flows were assigned to the highway network by synthesizing data from provincial highway authorities. Traffic flows were assigned to the rail network based on detailed carload data obtained from the railways.

Forecasts were generated based on growth rates from Transport Canada’s National Commodity Flow, Trade and Transportation Forecasts. These forecasts were integrated with provincial forecasts for total highway traffic (AADT) to project Levels of Service on the highway network and identify potential bottlenecks for freight movements. A similar method was used for estimating capacity utilization and potential congestion points on the rail network. Based on these forecasts, recommendations were developed for capital investment priorities.

The study included a detailed assessment of the capacity of terminal capacity and the road and rail networks in BC’s Lower Mainland to support anticipated growth in Port Metro Vancouver cargo traffic.

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