February 28, 2024

Fastfrate Group renews CPKC deal connecting US, Canada and Mexico


Fastfrate Group and CPKC railway announced Tuesday the renewal and expansion of their agreement that provides intermodal and drayage services across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

The five-year agreement aims to improve and speed up North America’s supply chain, while tapping into growing cross-border trade among the three countries, especially the automotive industry, Fastfrate officials said.

“The faster we can fix supply chains, the more activity that’s going to come,” Fastfrate Group Executive Chairman Ron Tepper told FreightWaves. “This agreement with CPKC is really critical, not only for Mexico, but for Canada as well, since Canada is a huge trading partner with Mexico, and supply chains are an issue. The goal here is to speed up the supply chain at less cost. That’s exactly what we’re putting together.”

Fastfrate and CPKC have been partners for 58 years, having entered into their first service agreement in 1966. As part of its pact with CPKC, Fastfrate co-locates with CPKC for its intermodal terminals throughout Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

Since its founding in 1966, Fastfrate has grown into a group of five companies operating out of 40 terminals and final-mile hubs across Canada and the U.S. The Fastfrate Group is one of Canada’s largest privately held carriers with coast-to-coast facilities and services.

In 2022, Fastfrate acquired Canadian truckload and logistics provider Challenger Motor Freight. The deal made Fastfrate one of the largest cross-border trucking and logistics companies in Canada. Today Fastfrate operates more than 5,500 trucks and trailers, has 1.2 million square feet of facilities and employs about 5,000 workers.

Fastfrate’s latest agreement with CPKC makes Fastfrate subsidiary Canada Drayage Inc. (CDI) the largest coast-to-coast drayage provider in Canada, officials said. CDI will also become the largest drayage provider in North America for CPKC as part of the agreement.

The Fastfrate Group will also upgrade gate technology at CPKC facilities in Toronto and Montreal, aimed at decreasing wait times for drayage trucks, Fastfrate CEO Manny Calandrino said.

“At our two major centers in Montreal and Toronto, we now have a private gate for trucks to get into the CPKC facilities, as opposed to going through the front entrance of the intermodal facility of the other railroads,” Calandrino said.

Drayage trucks can spend hours waiting to enter the gates of a port or railway station.

“For trucks to try to get in and out of facilities, there’s a long waiting time, which can be horrific,” Calandrino said. “We’ve eliminated that with our private gate plus putting in automatic reader technology, which we call the Fast Pass with CPKC. That’s a major advantage that we’re going to bring to the marketplace because we’ll be able to pre-pull equipment on off hours, bypass the traffic there at the main gate terminals and come into our yard.”

The Fastfrate Group is also investing $7.4 million to create a 15-acre container yard next to CPKC’s Toronto intermodal facility and a pre-pull yard for CPKC’s domestic and international container line customers. Both facilities aim to streamline operations for domestic and international shippers. 

As part of the CPKC agreement, Fastfrate will market CPKC’s services to Mexico and invest in more containers to meet the growing demand for cross-border transportation services. Fastfrate added 200 containers last year and plans to add an additional 200 by the end of the year. 

The company has already deployed 100 containers on CPKC’s Mexico Midwest Express service to meet the growing demand for Mexico services, Calandrino said.

“We now have opened up the Mexico lane with CPKC. We just started this two weeks ago, and we’re going to be moving about 30 loads a week out of Mexico and coming into Canada,” Calandrino said.

Challenger Motor Freight will also benefit from the renewed Fastfrate-CPKC deal through the enhanced suite of services it can now offer its largest customer segment — just-in-time automotive parts.

“In Canada, Challenger is one of the largest trucking companies in the country. The biggest industry that they serve is automotive,” Tepper said. “The automotive industry is the biggest market for freight for Mexico, because they have parts coming north and they have loads that bring the parts back again.”

Along with expanding its market share in the automotive freight space, Tepper and Calandrino see opportunities in transporting goods from the aerospace, industrial and agricultural industries.

“Even though we’ve had a long-term partnership with CPKC, we really wanted to research the market ourselves, to understand what investments are required, and what the return on the investment is going to be,” Tepper said. “We have LTL, we have truckload, we have rail, we have home delivery, we have drayage, so we’re a full-service carrier. We wanted to take that into the U.S. and see whether it made any sense for us, and we think it does.”

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