Carole Rooney – Ashcroft Cache Creek Journal – July 2009
Keep your eyes on the prize or, in this case, on the freight cars. Which is exactly what Bob Landucci is doing, landing a 10-year contract with Lafarge for his inland port to hand red shale for its cement.
And he is primed for many more industrial bulk customers. Landucci, who owns the property, has been spearheading to bring freight containers to the village via Ashcroft terminals.
Since 1999, he’s worked diligently with rail companies and freight leaders across the globe to make the dream happen. Landucci’s already made a significant start, but that’s just one part of the plan.
The 320-acre Ashcroft terminal facility has the capability of accepting and handling containers and construction is underway for a three-and-a-half-kilometre loop track that will eventually stretch seven kilometres.
The point is to allow some of the 57 freight trains that already go directly through the site each day – including every single car out of Vancouver and all the pulp cars – to load or offload while keeping the mainline track clear.
A switching area is also part of the terminal plan, with a figure-eight loop track to ease congestion.
In a presentation to MP Chuck Strahl last week, Landucci explained the need for this system, which would delineate the current tangle of cars, many of which are empty, travelling around the province to get the job done.
These empty rail cars come as far away as the Easter seaboard in Canada and the U.S., said Landucci, explaining many of those could be reloaded at Ashcroft to save money, time and transportation expenses.
A state-of-the-art scale, a $125,000 investment, was part of the first phase to handle the red shale for Lafarge and potentially bring in more mining freight.
The land ownership is currently entirely private, so Landucci said they have come a long way, riding on their own funds. But the time has come to approach government or other strategic partners to complete the next phases.
Just back from three weeks in Asia, visiting head offices for various North American shipping lines, Landucci said he needs federal government support to get the estimated $500 million project off the ground.
Eliminating unnecessary routing and utilize the location, the only place CN and CP rails are on the same side of the river this side of Edmonton, is what Landucci is promoting and he is confident his plan will work.
Landucci said boxcars get loaded from the three pulp mills in central B.C. and go through the Ashcroft terminal site before arriving at the coast, which handles about 36,000 containers a year.
Typically, these cars would drop their load at one site and then travel to another or various other sites to reload.
Combine the current pulp freight with products from the mining industry and other container freight, and Landucci said the Ashcroft site could off-load, store and reload cars without the need for them to reroute all over the province.
Strahl said the Ashcroft site is a "great gateway" and pointed out ways to tackle government red tape. Strahl’s recommendations included approaching the Conservative B.C. caucus and the federal government with a detailed plan.
And, according to Christopher Mooi, this shouldn’t be a problem for Landucci, who, he said, is no stranger to business.
"Bob is the current world chairman for WBO (World Business Organization) and his trip was in combination with that," said Mooi, the chief development officer and senior vice-president for the Ashcroft terminal.
"So, a lot of the people he was talking to and meeting with are some of the significant players in the way that B.C. ends up connecting with the rest of the world."