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Rail News: Intermodal

Georgia port authority unveils dual rail service between Savannah, Chicago

The GPA plans to double annual capacity at the Garden City Terminal in Savannah to 11 million 20-foot equivalent units. 
Photo – Georgia Ports Authority


To handle growing container volumes and attract additional business, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) is expanding its rail infrastructure and offerings.

Yesterday, the authority announced plans to offer dual rail service from the Port of Savannah to Chicago. CSX and Norfolk Southern Railway will move cargo between the points in less than three days, GPA officials said in a press release.

"We're now moving containers from ship to departing rail in only 24 hours — two-and-a-half times faster than our previous schedule — which makes Savannah competitive on time and lower on cost compared to traditional cargo routings,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch.

To accommodate increasing rail demand, the GPA is spending $220 million to expand on-terminal rail infrastructure at the port. The Mason Mega Rail Terminal that’s under construction will be the largest on-dock rail facility at any North American port and will double the port's annual rail lift capacity to 1 million containers, GPA officials said.

The terminal's first phase is slated for completion in spring 2020 and the second phase is expected to open in late 2020.

In fiscal-year 2019 that ended June 30, the GPA logged record volumes in containers, total tonnage and cargo. The Savannah port logged 4.5 million 20-foot equivalent units, up 7.3 percent year over year. Tonnage rose 4.2 percent to 37.5 million tons and the number of intermodal boxes climbed 17 to 507,000.

The rising influx of cargo also is driving an "extraordinary level" of private investment at the port, Lynch said. In FY2019, developers added 10.75 million square feet of industrial space in the Savannah market, a year-over-year increase of 19 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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