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Rail News: Intermodal

Rail delays cause moderate congestion at West Coast ports, retail federation says


U.S. ports are handling the fall peak despite rail congestion that’s delaying container moves at West Coast ports, according to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) and Global Insight’s November “Port Tracker” report.

“Railroad delays are a concern, but virtually all of the merchandise for the holiday season has already been received, so it’s not as much of a concern for retailers as it would have been a month ago,” said NRF Vice President and International Trade Counsel Erik Autor in a prepared statement.

The report gave West Coast ports in Los Angeles/Long Beach and Oakland, Calif., and Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., a “medium” congestion rating, meaning the facilities face potential congestion because of rail delays up to four days for inbound and outbound traffic.

“Record container volumes combined with lingering disruptions to the rail networks from the hurricanes have resulted in intermodal rail terminal congestion in the west,” said Global Insight Principal Economist Paul Bingham. “With monthly volumes projected to decline over the next few months, the pressure should begin to decrease.”

Meanwhile, East Coast ports in New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Va., Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., received “low” congestion ratings, meaning the facilities reported no serious congestion.

In September, surveyed U.S. ports handled 1.4 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), up 14.5 percent compared with September 2004 and 0.6 percent compared with August. Traffic will peak at 1.44 million TEUs in October, which would increase 8.9 percent compared with October 2004, before settling to 1.21 million TEUs in February, the report states.

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More News from 11/9/2005