A manufacturing company appeals to surrounding businesses in the Ottawa Valley to board and share their railroad.
The only remaining lane in the area could provide a cost-effective alternative for shipping and receiving a large volume of product.
As the train approaches, a series of short whistles are heard in the distance. Only a few minutes later, five tank cars slowly rolled around the bend in the track.
It’s delivery day at the Nylene factory in Arnprior, Ontario.
“There are approximately 179,000 pounds of raw materials inside each of these containers,” says logistics manager Tom Fishenden. “For our facility, there are only two suppliers in North America supplying the raw material – one is in Virginia, the other in Texas.”
The product is called caprolactam, the main ingredient Nylene needs to produce nylon; which will be used to make carpets, wire and cable ducts and other products, such as plastic casters for chairs.
“The factory never closes,” says Fishenden. “Bringing it in by rail ensures we’ll have enough to last maybe two to three weeks.”
The non-hazardous compound travels from the United States to Ottawa, where it follows the main freight route through the city, then descends a 40 kilometer spur to the back gate of the plant.
So why rail rather than road? Well, each of these cargo containers is equivalent to about four material transport trucks.
On average, Nylene receives a weekly delivery by CN Rail of nearly 20 trucks. Managing director Ralph Anzaruth says shipping by rail is a fraction of the cost, but that doesn’t include the price of maintaining his line.
“With leasing the corridor from the City of Ottawa comes the responsibility to maintain the track,” Anzarouth said. “Obviously we can, through this rail, access any point in North America and I hope to interest other companies in the region to take advantage of this and participate in the maintenance of the rail … there has the enormous benefits of rail from an ecological standard not only from an economic point of view but ecologically, carbon footprint reducing costs.”
Anzaruth adds that even throughout the pandemic and the sharp rise in inflation, their shipping costs have remained relatively stable.
“And there’s a resurgence in North America of finding ways to ship by rail just because of the efficiency of bulk and volume versus what you can get on a truck,” he says. .
The railway line is the only one remaining in the area. As demand waned, CN removed most of its tracks, making way for nature trails.
“It’s a very attractive feature for business and economic development in various regions,” said Renfrew County Business Development Officer David Wyboo.
“We are always trying to canvass and find businesses in our area that would benefit to the economy. When it comes to attracting new business as well, many large manufacturers are still looking to available transportation networks, especially rail.”
Wyboo notes that Renfrew County is the largest in Ontario and offers a diverse economy not only in agriculture and forestry, but also an extensive network of manufacturers, including science and technology, all of which could be transported by rail.
“Things like cars for car dealerships, farm equipment machinery, a lot of manufactured goods, things like agricultural products and fertilizers, lumber as well as aggregates would be potential materials shipped by rail. and there could be benefits to that,” says Wyboo.
For Anzaruth, the possibilities of this line are endless.
“There are a lot of advantages to using rail,” he says. “There is an opportunity here to continue to use rail and continue to take advantage of it and maybe in the future eventually connect to the LRT in Ottawa, why not!”