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Rail News: Intermodal

No congestion yet at busy U.S. ports, retail federation report says


Although major U.S. ports’ inbound container traffic is up on a year-over-year basis, the facilities are avoiding the congestion that slowed inbound moves last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s first-ever monthly “Port Tracker” report.

Developed in response to 2004’s port congestion and other disruption issues, the report assesses conditions at the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach and Oakland, Calif.; Tacoma and Seattle, Wash.; New York/New Jersey; Hampton Roads, Va.; Charleston, S.C.; and Savannah, Ga. The report analyzes inbound container volume, the availability of trucks and rail cars, labor conditions and other factors.

Congestion levels currently stand at “low” for 75 percent of the ports and “medium” for the remainder, the report states. A low ranking means there’s no serious cargo congestion, delays or diversions; a medium level indicates there’s potential congestion at a port or inland transportation system.

In June, surveyed ports handled 1.23 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), an 11.2 percent increase compared with June 2004. In October, the ports expect traffic to peak at 1.32 million TEUs — which would rise 7.6 percent compared with October 2004 — before settling at 1.23 million TEUs (or a 6.8 percent year-over-year increase) in December.

During the past few months, railroads’ average train speeds have been comparable to last year, but more intermodal cars are available, Port Tracker states. At the L.A./Long Beach port, more truckers than expected are using a new PierPASS system designed to promote evening and weekend trucking.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/10/2005