Re: Incan Superior

From: Tom Hynes
Location: Grand Ledge
Remote Name:
Date: 02/05/04
Time: 08:16:12 PM


I know I have read some articles about Incan Marine/Incan Ships but the only reference I can find right now is a 2 page article by Bruce Burton in the January CTC Board (issue 219). (this issue also contains 10 pages of photos of various North American carfloat operations.) From the article and my poor memory, here is some background:******* Inchape and Company of London and Canadian Pacific formed Incan Marine LTD. in 1972 to develop marine based intermodal distribution systems. Incan Ships LTD. was the operating arm. Three new carferries were built: The Incan Superior (now Princess Superior) for Lake Superior, the Incan St. Laurent (now Georges Alexander Lebel) for the St. Lawrence, and the Carrier Princess for Vancouver/Vancourver Island service. All three ferries were built at Burrard Dry Dock in North Vancouver, BC. and are similar in size. Each had a different superstructure depending on their intended use. The Carrier Princess had an open bow for use in sheltered waters, the Incan Superior a fully protected bow but an open car deck while the Georges Alexander Lebel (at least currently) has a fully enclosed car deck. All three ships are still in operation as train ferries, although the Carrier Princess and the Superior Princess carry mostly trucks now. ******** The intent of the Incan Superior's route was apparently to help CP capture a large amount of newsprint traffic from the north shore of Lake Superior to large midwestern cities in the US. Duluth and Thunder Bay are about 170 miles apart, but the most direct rail link is the Canadian National route through International Falls at about 400 miles. Canadian Pacific's only possible routing went through Winnipeg, which I'll guess is about 1000 miles. At the time the Incan Superior went into service, CN service between Thunder Bay and Duluth took 3 days. The boat could make the trip in 12 to 14 hours or a round trip in 30 to 36 hours. The boat survived for about 18 years mostly on newprint and forest products until CN finally got their act together enough to win back the traffic to an all rail routing. The CTC Board article mentions they made about 2400 trips in 18 shipping seasons. One major drawback to the route was that it was seasonal: they didn't try to operate the carferry year round.**** It is interesting to note that A.B.M. has recently replicated this route with the tug Radium Yellowknife and barges carrying lumber in bulk (not on railcars.)

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