Containerization on the Great Lakes: Why It Declined

The minimum mileage route between the largest ports of Europe and many major Great Lakes cities is the all water route utilizing the St Lawrence. Stated directly, if one takes a globe, sticks a pin in Rotterdam/Antwerp and a second pin in Toronto or Cleveland, and connects the pins with a string, then one discovers that the string extends along the St Lawrence Seaway. This route though, is highly underutilized for commerce. In fact, the only scheduled service existing on this route today was begun in 2014 by the Dutch operator, Spliethoff Group. During 2014, the Spliethoff service operated monthly between Cleveland and Antwerp, moving a combination of breakbulk, project cargo, and containers. During the 2 015 season, the service will increase to biweekly. The lack of Great Lakes commerce is puzzling because many scheduled services operated on the Great Lakes between the 1930s and 1980s, but all of them died out. This paper investigates the reasons that these services (particularly for containers) ended, with a view toward determining if conditions are favorable for a near term revival. This paper begins with a discussion of the history of containers on the Great Lakes. Next will be a general discussion of why the Great Lakes business declined. Next, a special case -- the growth and decline of Manchester Liners, the primary Great Lakes container carrier -- will be examined. The paper concludes with a short discussion of the importance of this issue.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Pagination: 1 PDF file, 154 KB, 6p.
  • Monograph Title: Canadian Transportation Research Forum 50th Annual Conference - Another 50 Years: Where to From Here?//Un autre 50 ans : qu'en est-il à partir de maintenant? Montreal, Quebec, May 24-26, 2015

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01605048
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transportation Association of Canada (TAC)
  • Files: ITRD, TAC
  • Created Date: Jul 26 2016 5:05PM