Transload facility set for Man.

Access to two railways and proximity to the border was the deciding factor in location selection

Agricultural shippers in southern Manitoba will soon have access to a new transload terminal that offers direct rail access to markets in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Mid Canada Transload Services Ltd. is building a new inland port and rail siding near Letellier, Man., 11 kilometres north of the Canada–U.S. border.

The facility will be one of the largest privately owned inland ports in the province, says project proponent Real Tetrault.

It will be located beside Highway 75, which is the Manitoba trucking industry’s busiest export corridor.

It will also have access to Canadian National Railway and Burlington Northern Santa Fe and will offer daily rail service to and from the U.S. and Mexico.

“We’re planning one mile of rail siding,” said Tetrault, who is also president of Emerson Milling, located just a few kilometres away at Emerson, Man.

“At this point, we’re going to put up hopper bins and grain legs and scales,” he said.

“We feel that there’s lots of opportunity south of the border (to U.S. destinations and Mexico).”

The facility will initially include a few hundred thousand bushels of storage.

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Services will be offered to individual producer car loaders as well as other shippers, both agricultural and non-agricultural.

“We’re looking at a modular type of development that can be expanded over time,” Tretrault said. “As business comes, we will develop the site more and more.”

Tetrault said Emerson Milling will also relocate its operations to the site.

A firm date for relocation has not been established, but Tetrault hopes the move will take place within the next two years or so.

Emerson Milling current plant doesn’t have its own rail siding.

Oats are trucked to the plant, processed and trucked out 15 kilometres to Letellier, where they are loaded onto rail cars.

Relocating operations to the new Mid Canada site will allow Emerson to load oat products directly onto rail, reducing handling costs and increasing load-out efficiency.

“We’ve been looking for a new location for quite some time now where we could expand our plant and have direct rail access,” Tetrault said.

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“We were looking at locations in Saskatchewan and elsewhere in Manitoba, but we eventually decided that the best place for us was right here at Emerson, where we have a rail interchange with BNSF and CN.”

Tetrault said Emerson had considered moving to Humboldt, Sask., but disruptions to rail service during the winter of 2013-14 reinforced the importance of operating near a rail interswitch location.

“That rail car shortage (in 2013-14) showed us that we can’t be limited to one railway,” Tetrault said.

“With the interswitch location at Emerson, that opens the door to having more shipping options, and that’s the key to our future.”

Tetrault also plans to expand into “identity preserved” grain markets, a niche he believes large grain handling companies are less inclined to get involved in.

Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen welcomed the new investment.

“Cross-border trade is vital to the growth and prosperity of Manitoba’s economy,” said Cullen in a news release. 

“This development is strategically positioned with direct links to international markets.  Manitoba producers, processors and small and mid-size shippers will benefit from the opportunities this new inland port will provide.”

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Mid Canada Transload is expected to start operating in October.