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Rail News: Intermodal

Ocean-liner alliance to call on Tacoma port instead of Seattle harbor

The Grand Alliance ocean-liner consortium recently announced plans to relocate its Washington state port of call from the Port of Seattle to Port of Tacoma after a contract expires in a few months. The consortium includes Hapag-Lloyd AG, NYK Line and Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd.

Port of Tacoma officials expect the new business to begin in July. The consortium is a reflection of the “dramatic change” the shipping industry has undergone the past three years in response to “tremendous economic and competitive pressures,” port officials said in a prepared statement. Shipping lines are forming alliances to share ship space and terminal capacity, and reduce fuel costs.

“We are confident that … we will continue to realize new business opportunities at the Port of Tacoma,” said the port’s Chief Executive Officer John Wolfe.

Four on- and near-dock intermodal yards in Tacoma are served by BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad, while Tacoma Rail provides switching and terminal rail services at the port.

Although it’s vital that the alliance’s business remains in Washington, the consortium’s switch to the Tacoma port will affect jobs, Port of Seattle officials said in a prepared statement.

“Some who work in the Seattle harbor could see their livelihood impacted severely or in some cases, disappear,” they said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/13/2012