UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Truck, rail and water transport of raw wood in the British Columbia forest industry Parchomchuk, William


This thesis deals with a comparative economic analysis of the truck, rail and water modes of transporting raw wood in the British Columbia Forest Industry. The thesis is directed toward establishing general guidelines for the determination of the optimal mode or combination of modes for transporting wood from the forest to consuming plants. Companies holding large tracts of timber find it necessary to do a comparative analysis of each transportation mode for their own specific situation before designing a transportation network. Since the location of wood-using plants has considerable effect upon transportation networks, this topic is also included in the thesis. The first part of the thesis shows the importance and the variety of transportation methods employed in the British Columbia Forest Industry. The largest portion of logging costs is directly attributable to transportation. Improved technology has led to several important changes in forest transportation in recent years. These are mainly the change-over from private logging railways to truck transport, and the complete change from Davis rafts to self-loading and self-dumping barges. A large portion of the thesis is concerned with a graphical comparison of transfer rates for raw forest products over distance for each of the transportation modes. Break-even distances between modes were calculated graphically. This portion of the study was accomplished by gathering province-wide transfer rates for raw wood from the Canadian National Railways, the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Pacific Great Eastern Railway, the Motor Carriers Branch of the Public Utilities Commission, various trucking firms, tugboat companies, forestry firms, and the British Columbia Forest Service. Rates for various distances were plotted for each mode and forest product. Curves and intersections were analyzed. In the transfer of logs, it was found that water rates are the lowest even at short distances. This is unlike transfer rates for other commodities where at short distances, water transfer rates are higher than both truck and railway rates. The buoyancy and ruggedness of wood make it naturally suited to low cost forms of water transport, especially by flat raft where investment in vessels is minimal . Average log transfer rates for truck and rail indicate a break-even distance between these modes of about 15 miles. When considering that most log hauls originate by truck, the cost of transshipping to rail cars causes the actual break-even to occur at about 70 miles. A similar analysis was carried out for chip and lumber transfer rates. A comparison on a common per hundredweight basis is made of transfer rates for logs, chips, and lumber by all modes. A comparison of average transfer rates indicates an economic line-haul distance for logs of about 90 miles by truck, 270 miles by rail, and 1,000 miles by barge when $12 hauling allowance remains after gathering logs at transportation terminals. Actual hauls throughout the province rarely exceed the above distances. Many other economic aspects of the above modes besides rates, are of considerable importance and are considered in some detail in three separate chapters. For example, the construction of private roads or roads of higher standard may favorably affect costs, depending upon the volume of timber to be hauled. Since timber is heavy and bulky, and experiences a large weight loss upon conversion, mills have tended to be raw-material oriented rather than market oriented. However, on coastal British Columbia, mills tend to be more centralized, with the resource being gathered over a wide area by using cheap water transportation. Future technological developments may result in the use of pipelines, helicopters, and conveyor belts in the transfer of raw forest products.

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