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Hurricane Alex (the aftermath): 'Our gateways to Mexico are open,' Ferromex says


Attention, rail shippers: Contrary to what you might have heard, all rail gateways to Mexico are not closed, say officials at Ferrocarril Méxicano S.A. de C.V.’s (Ferromex).

Despite the severe damage caused by Hurricane Alex along Mexico’s Gulf Coast and the Rio Grande Valley, Ferromex’s Eagles Pass and El Paso gateways are open — and have been since the first week of July.  

“When Alex hit on July 1, all our main operations through Piedras Negras and Torreon were closed,” says Juan Carlos Miranda, chief operations officer for Ferromex. “But those lines were open by July 5.”

On July 6, a second storm hit, forcing Ferromex officials to shut down border traffic for a day. But by July 8, the railway’s network was nearly completely back in business. Exception:
The embargo on traffic between Monterrey and Altamira remained in place — and as of July 20, it still was, as Ferromex maintenance-of-way crews continue repair work on the heavily damaged, 277-meter Linares Bridge.

“We are planning to open this bridge on July 31,” Miranda says. “So, by the first week of August, we should resume normal operation on this corridor.”

As the railroad put it in a July 16 notice to customers: “The Eagle Pass gateway is open and in full operation, as are the lines serving Monterrey and Torreon. Transit times are slower than normal, primarily due to the significant amounts of traffic being diverted over these lines.”

In the meantime, Miranda says Ferromex also has been “supporting” Kansas City Southern de México S.A. de C.V. (KCSM), which also has been working to restore certain service segments, post-Alex. Specifically, KCSM has been working with Ferromex and Union Pacific Railroad to reroute trains over the Brownsville/Matamoros and Eagle Pass crossings.

The rerouting could end soon. Today, Kansas City Southern (KCS) announced that KCSM estimates that, barring no new complications, its Nuevo Laredo gateway will be reopened for service sometime this weekend. KCSM crews have been repairing the Anahuac Bridge, which is located on a line between Nueva Laredo and Monterrey.

Divers were at the Anahuac Bridge yesterday and today to inspect the bridge’s piers under the water line; no pier damage was found and a missing beam was located and will be reused in the bridge repairs, according to a prepared KCSM statement. The Reopening of the Anahuac Bridge would enable the railroad to reopen the Nuevo Laredo gateway and the main line to Saltillo.

Once that service is restored, all service embargoes KCSM imposed on July 3 are expected to be lifted early next week, said KCS President and Chief Operating Officer David Starling.

—  Pat Foran

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/21/2010