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Rail News: Intermodal

Several North American ports posted volume gains in 2013


The Port of Hamilton, Ontario, in 2013 logged slightly more than 3,800 rail cars, up 540 cars compared with 2012. The port is served by CN and Canadian Pacific.

"We are working closely with our tenants to understand their need for increased rail capacity and storage," said Bruce Wood, president and chief executive officer of the Hamilton Port Authority, in a press release. "[The authority] is putting infrastructure in place to allow cargo to move seamlessly between marine, rail and truck, depending on what is most efficient for the customer on a given shipment."

The port's total volume in 2013 reached 10,024,418 tons, on par with 2012 and 2011, authority officials said. Grain and fertilizer volumes rose 13 percent and 2 percent, respectively. The port also registered cargo gains in other commodities, such as iron ore, salt and gasoline, that helped offset decreases in coal, coke and finished steel volumes.

Meanwhile, the Ports of Indiana announced its three ports in 2013 handled 8.3 million tons of cargo, up 20 percent compared with 2012. Volume reached the third-highest total in the organization's 52-year history and the highest level since 2006.

Strong shipments of coal, steel and agricultural-related products helped drive volume gains at the ports in Burns Harbor, Jeffersonville and Mount Vernon.

"In 2013, our ports handled more steel, fertilizer and minerals than any year in recent history," said Ports of Indiana CEO Rich Cooper in a press release. "Steel, ag products and coal make up over 80 percent of the shipments at our three ports."

Individually, the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor recorded its highest annual tonnage since 2006 and second-highest since 1998 at 2.5 million tons; the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville registered its highest annual tonnage since 2006 at 1.6 million tons, up 19 percent year over year; and the Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon logged its highest quarterly shipments in the fourth quarter and boosted 2013 volume 21 percent to 4.2 million tons.

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) noted annual volume gains at its two ports, as well. Container volume at ports in Charleston and Georgetown exceeded 1.6 million 20-foot equivalent units, up 5.7 percent year over year, while breakbulk cargo grew 3.3 percent.

The authority also reported that containerized rail shipments jumped 18 percent last year, and since 2011 have risen 50 percent.

"Those shipments now represent about 16 percent of overall port volume, driven largely by a successful implementation of the port's RapidRail drayage program that includes participation by all major carriers," SCPA officials said.