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Rail News: Intermodal

August intermodal volume varied at ports in three states


Container shipments at the Port of Long Beach, Calif., declined 9.1 percent in August to 573,083 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), reflecting early shipping efforts by importers over the past several months and a tough comparison with total volume in August 2013, which was the port's busiest month in six years.

Imports dropped 8.2 percent to 300,851 TEUs, exports declined 17.7 percent to 126,856 TEUs and empty container volume dipped 2 percent to 145,376 TEUs.

"The downturn last month followed a surge in Long Beach from April through June, when retailers shipped their products early ahead of the expiration of the longshore contract at the end of June," port officials said in a press release. "Last year’s August was very busy and started off the typical August through October 'peak season,' [and] that peak season may have occurred earlier this year."

The Port of Los Angeles wasn't similarly impacted in August, which was its busiest month since August 2010. The port's total volume in August reached 757,702 TEUs, up 6.8 percent year over year.

Imports rose 7.8 percent to 383,551 TEUs, exports increased 6.2 percent to 168,248 TEUs, total load container volume climbed 7.3 percent to 551,799 TEUs and empty container volume grew 5.3 percent to 205,903 TEUs.

Meanwhile, a strong August helped the South Carolina Ports Authority (SPCA) boost container volume 13 percent in the first two months of its fiscal-year 2015. The authority handled 163,970 TEUs in August, up from 153,916 TEUs in July and 144,649 TEUs in August 2013.

Through FY2015's first two months, container volume is 12.2 percent ahead of plan, SCPA officials said in a press release. As measured in pier containers, volume in the period climbed 13.5 percent year over year.
"Strong container volumes are driving exceptional fiscal year to date operating earnings, which were nearly 70 percent higher than last July and August," said SCPA President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Newsome. "Over the next several months, we will be watching the development of vessel sharing agreements and evaluating the impacts they will have on our FY2015 volumes."

In Virginia, the state port handled 214,355 TEUs in August, an all-time high for a single month, breaking a record set in July by 6,584 TEUs, according to the Virginia Port Authority. The container count rose 8.1 percent compared with August 2013.

Rail volume ratcheted up 1.7 percent, truck volume climbed 12.9 percent and barge volume jumped 16.1 percent. The Virginia Inland Port, an intermodal terminal in Front Royal, handled 3,002 containers in August, up 5.2 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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