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Rail News: Intermodal

Long Beach port considers on-dock rail incentive

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners recently gave preliminary approval to two incentives aimed at attracting additional cargo to the Port of Long Beach and encouraging the use of on-dock rail and shore power services.

An Incremental On-Dock Intermodal Incentive Program calls for providing ocean carriers $5 per loaded 20-foot equivalent unit for new rail-hauled cargo brought to the port above a 2013 baseline volume. For example, if vessels bring 20 percent more cargo to the port over two years, the incentive would generate an additional $22 million in revenue, commission officials said in a press release.

Each container would need to travel inland via on-dock rail, which helps to eliminate truck trips on local roadways, they said.

Meanwhile, a Vessel Dockage Waiver Program calls for the port to waive dock charges for cargo ships that both slow down within 40 nautical miles of Long Beach and plug into shore power or use another approved pollution-reducing technology at the berth. By waiving the fees, the port would forgo an estimated $3.3 million to $4.9 million per year in charges, but would help attract additional cargo and offset costs, commission officials said.

Because Long Beach competes with ports in Vancouver and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico, where costs are much lower, the incentives are important, said Commission President Doug Drummond.

"They have to do with increasing cargo for our port, and are hitting at a time when cargo across the board is increasing," he said.

The commission will determine whether to grant the incentives final approval at its June 23 meeting.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/17/2014