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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

West Coast ports promote Asian gateway potential; Long Beach port changes container incentive program


The ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., are working together to promote the Pacific Northwest as a regional trade gateway.

British Columbia ports are competing for U.S.-bound cargo, while the expansion of the Panama and Suez canals present opportunities for shippers. As global trade routes emerge, the Seattle and Tacoma ports need to continue forging long-term competitive strategies to ensure their facilities are considered a prime gateway by shippers worldwide, port officials said in a prepared statement.

“The competition our West Coast container ports face is a clear call to action to address our transportation system holistically and seek new ways to promote our region’s environmental advantages,” said Tacoma Commission President Clare Petrich.

The Seattle and Tacoma ports also have joined ports in Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif., and Portland, Ore., as well as BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad to promote the entire West Coast as the “greenest” and most efficient gateway for Asian cargo. Next month, chief executives from the six ports and two Class Is plan to attend the World Shipping Summit in China to showcase West Coast ports’ benefits.

Meanwhile, the port of Long Beach recently changed a five-month-old incentive program aimed at prompting more importers to ship rail-hauled cargo through the facility. The port realigned the program’s “baseline year” to more accurately reflect the recession’s start and help more ocean carriers qualify for the incentive.

Ocean carriers now receive $20 for each additional 20-foot container shipped through the port from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2010, that exceeds their volume in the new baseline year — the period between October 2008 and September 2009. An incentive program for marine terminal operators that took effect in May hasn’t been changed, according to the port.