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Rail News: Intermodal

Jacksonville port lands Fiat Chrysler business; L.A.-area ports partner to ease congestion


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has selected the Port of Jacksonville as the import point for its 2015 Jeep Renegade, the first Jeep to be built exclusively outside of the United States.

AMPORTS will handle vehicle processing at the Florida port's Blount Island Marine Terminal, which is served by CSX Transportation. The sport utility vehicles will be shipped via Grimaldi Lines. The first shipment of Jeep Renegades arrived at JAXPORT in February.

"This new business once again illustrates the confidence that automakers worldwide have in [us] and our service partners," said Roy Schleicher, JAXPORT's executive vice president and chief commercial officer, in a press release.

The port has served as the import/export point for many of the automaker's brands and models.

"Our partnership with AMPORTS will help ensure the success of the Renegade launch in the region," said Ren Reed, who handles finished vehicle logistics, procurement and network design for Fiat Chrysler.

Meanwhile, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced the Federal Maritime Commission has approved their agreement to discuss and agree upon projects and programs that address congestion issues, transportation infrastructure needs and pollution-reduction measures.

Both ports registered significant cargo volume drops in January primarily due to terminal congestion, the protracted dockworker contract negotiations and other supply chain issues. The agreement will enable the ports to jointly address congestion issues by establishing initiatives to increase terminal productivity, facilitate chassis availability and usage, and improve drayage truck turn times.

"[We both] can now focus on working together to improve the speed of cargo flow throughout the supply chain. The ports are in a perfect position — and indeed have an obligation — to bring all industry stakeholders together to identify and implement continuous improvements," said Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Jon Slangerup in a press release.

In another move aimed at addressing the ports' supply chain issues, Direct ChassisLink Inc., Flexi-Van Leasing Inc. and TRAC Intermodal yesterday launched a "gray chassis fleet" equipment pool designed to spur more efficient cargo operations by providing terminal operators and trucking companies at the ports more flexibility in obtaining chassis.

Eleven of the ports' 13 container terminals and their off-dock rail yards are expected to participate in the pool. The two other container terminals use their own equipment, but could opt to participate in the future.

"This is a major step forward in addressing the congestion issues that have challenged the San Pedro Bay cargo flow in recent months," said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. "The gray chassis pool, along with other initiatives underway to improve efficiencies, will help our marine terminals move effectively towards restoring cargo flow through this important gateway."
The Port of Long Beach also recently appointed two port industry veterans to newly created management positions charged with enhancing cargo flow. The port's board named Michael Christensen senior executive for supply chain optimization and Glenn Farren, director of tenant services and operations.

Most recently deputy executive director at the Port of Los Angeles since 2006, Christensen will report to Slangerup and be responsible for working collaboratively with industry stakeholders to find new ways to increase communication and cooperation among supply chain links. He previously served as vice president for the Parsons Transportation Group, and VP and managing principal for Nolte and Associates.

Most recently general manager for Hapag-Lloyd America, Farren will be responsible for relations with port tenants. He has more than 20 years of experience in managing marine terminals. Farren previously held various positions for shipping companies Maersk, Sea-Land and APL.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/3/2015