Union Pacific, CN and GMXT (Grupo Mexico Transportes, comprising Ferromex, Ferrosur and IMEX) are introducing Mexico-U.S.-Canada “Falcon Premium” interline intermodal service for automotive parts, food, FAK (freight all kinds), home appliances and temperature-controlled products. The announcement came concurrently with CN’s first-quarter 2023 earnings report.
Falcon Premium will connect all CN origin points within Canada, and at Detroit, to UP at two locations via CN’s former Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Chicago bypass, then to GMXT Mexican terminals at Monterrey and Silao, through UP’s border crossing at Eagle Pass, Tex. (Piedras Negras, Mexico).
CN’s connection to and from UP will occur at UP’s Yard Center Intermodal Terminal, Dolton, Ill., and at CN’s Chicago Intermodal Terminal in Harvey, Ill. CN terminals/ramps include Detroit, Brampton (Ont.); Montreal, Moncton (N.B.), Halifax, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary, Prince George and Vancouver. CPKC (former KCSM) single-line-served locations in Mexico (Monterrey, Interpuerto and Mexico City) will all continue to be served and trucked in Chicago to/from CN and UP. All other Mexico, Canada and U.S. locations and service “will not be impacted.”
Equipment types eligible for Falcon Premium are privately owned 53-foot dry domestic containers, CN-owned 53-foot dry and reefer containers, and EMHU (EMP program) containers. EMP is a domestic interline service, consisting of more than 40,000 53-foot containers and chassis, offered by UP and Norfolk Southern, and including agent railroads such as CN and Florida East Coast Railway.
“The new service will start with Monterrey and Silao, but we will evaluate other locations in Mexico and the U.S.,” UP stated, adding that there are “no customs implications with the direct interchange vs. previous rubber tire connection; it is the same process for customs as used with the truck transfer in Chicago.”
The announcement on Falcon Premium came shortly before UP shared its April 21 weekly Surface Transportation Board (STB) metrics report with customers. “As we head into May, we’re seeing continued demand in some of our markets, and we’re working closely with Operating to make sure we are agile and have resources available in locations where we need them,” said Executive Vice President Marketing and Sales Kenny Rocker. “These metrics are compared to performance in mid-April 2022, and are based on the STB definitions for industry reporting. Car Velocity improved 14% to 202 miles per day. First Mile, Last Mile improved 2 points to 92%. Trip Plan Compliance (TPC) for Bulk (unit train) improved 17 points to 83%. TPC Manifest improved 10 points to 69%. TPC Intermodal improved 12 points to 85%.”
Described by the partners in no fewer than one dozen glowing terms—“fastest,” “bold,” “creative,” “most reliable,” “seamless,” “best-in-class transit times,” “superior route,” “new,” “unmatched,” “transformational,” “innovative,” “game changer”—Falcon Premium will “allow maximization of lading weights between Mexico/Canada for greater efficiency for customers” and “contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions through reduced rail miles and significant truck-to-rail conversion.”
CN President and CEO Tracy Robinson describes Falcon Premium as “a game changer for intermodal customers. Our commitment is to run this service with the utmost focus to maximize speed, reliability, and customer satisfaction. This service is an example of how collaboration and cooperation can improve supply chains for customers.”
“We are excited to be a part of this new intermodal service connection, which leverages our unmatched route into and out of Mexico and strengthens our intermodal service portfolio,” said UP chief executive Lance Fritz.
“GMXT has a long-standing commitment of being part of the logistics solutions that North America requires to boost the economic growth in the region, through its rail service,” said CEO Fernando López. “Falcon Premium service is tailor-made with the objective of providing new solutions to customers catering to the requirements of near-shoring demands.”