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Rail News: Intermodal

Ohio River terminals primed to provide container-on-barge services, study says


The Port of Pittsburgh Commission (PPC) recently released a study showing the port area contains sufficient steel-handling and river-terminal facilities to begin offering container-on-barge (COB) transportation services on the Ohio River.

Funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Maritime Administration and commissioned by the port, the study identifies problems the PPC would need to overcome to promote COB services, such as developing equipment and market strategies, providing shippers easy access to cost data and single bills of lading, and making locks more reliable.

The study also recommends the port combine containers with existing domestic cargoes — such as steel — to establish port-to-port pairs for intermodal distribution.

"Containers have been regularly used on European and Chinese inland vessels, but are only now finding their way into U.S. inland waterways," said PPC Executive Director James McCarville in a prepared statement. "Efforts to promote container-on-barge in the past in the U.S. have met with a 'chicken and egg syndrome.'"

The PPC recently retained consultants Martin Assocs. and Reebie Associated to identify potential southwestern Pennsylvania customers for a COB service and other container markets that could be served by water.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/23/2003