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Rail News: Intermodal

March port traffic: Third straight gain in Virginia; mixed results in southern California

The Port of Virginia in March handled 179,518 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), a 7.7 percent increase compared with March 2012 and the Norfolk facility's third-straight month-over-month gain.

Export volume rose 3.1 percent to 93,172 TEUs and import volume climbed 13.1 percent 86,346 TEUs. In addition, total rail container volume shot up 14.3 percent to 36,046 and general cargo tonnage increased 5 percent to 1,560,896.

"Given what we've seen thus far in 2013, we're optimistic about the coming months and are focusing all of our energy on leveraging this port's assets to build volumes," said Rodney Oliver, the Virginia Port Authority's interim executive director, in a press release.

Meanwhile, cargo volume at the Port of Long Beach, Calif., rose 5.4 percent in March to 486,699 TEUs primarily due to a five-year high in exports.

Export container volume climbed 7.9 percent year over year to 156,212 TEUs, the highest total since June 2008. However, import container volume dipped 0.5 percent to 224,913 TEUs.

Empty container volume increased 16.5 percent to 105,574 TEUs because imports exceeded exports. Empty containers are sent overseas to be refilled with goods.

"Imports slowed in March due to the Lunar New Year holiday, which affects production in many Asian countries that export to the United States," port officials said in a volume summary. "Compared to 2012, the holiday celebration started later this year and the effects were pushed to March, while last year's holiday slowed trade in February 2012."

The Port of Los Angeles in March handled 503,168 TEUs, down 22.6 percent versus March 2012.

Import container volume plunged 28.7 percent to 231,397 TEUs, export container volume declined 17.9 percent to 154,428 TEUs, total loaded container volume fell 24.8 percent to 385,825 TEUs and empty container volume decreased 14.7 percent to 117,343 TEUs.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/16/2013