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Issue 6 2018 - FBJNA

our facilities. We continue to introduce

new functions and features in the RailPASS app because we know every minute counts in today’s supply chains.”

Intermodal gateway

The Port of Long Beach, a true intermodal gateway—with two-thirds of the containers arriving at the port heading east on an intermodal train— is working with ocean carriers to optimize equipment needs and operations with the introduction of new technology platforms as well as investments in physical infrastructure. The port is partnering with GE Transportation to deploy the latter’s Port Optimizer, an end- to-end information portal. “It leverages data points

across the supply chain,” explains Noel Hacegaba, the port’s chief commercial officer. “We believe the portal will provide end-to-end visibility and put different supply-chain partners in a position to optimize operations and enable more efficient rail moves.” The project is currently in a pilot phase with participation of ocean carriers, two of the port’s terminals, and the three class-one railroads that serve the port. What does optimization

look like? “Equipment is sent to the right place at the right

time to move boxes from the terminal as soon as possible,” says Hacegaba. “Today there is still room for improvement. We are working to close that gap and tighten things up.” The port is looking to

promote efficiency in the

port ecosystem and

throughout broader supply chain with the deployment of this technology. “It’s one example of how we bring stakeholders around the table to identify common issues and challenges and work with them to make sure they are in alignment,” says Hacegaba. “We expect the portal to add value to the port’s operations by enhancing efficiency through communication and coordination.” Future intermodal

investment at Long Beach will concentrate on the physical side,

as the port plans to

invest $1 billion to build out additional rail and storage capacities. Besides that, $10 billion

of investments in

intermodal infrastructures are currently pouring into Southern California, $6 billion by the railroads and $4 billion by the ports. Long Beach’s two-to-one

intermodal-to-truck ratio has remained stable in recent years, notes Hacegaba, and the plan to increase the proportion moved transferred by on-dock facilities. Currently that ratio stands at 28%. “We have a goal to make that closer to 50%,”

said Hacegaba. The Port of Jacksonville

boasts three on-site intermodal transfer facilities, at the Talleyrand, Crowley, and Dames Point terminals, the latter operated by CSX. The north-south carrier Hamburg Sud is the primary carrier using the Dames Point ITF, bringing auto parts and other manufactured components

out of the

Midwest while the gamut of consumer goods from Asia arrive inbound. Development of Jaxport’s

intermodal capacity was funded by the federal and

BNSF and UP are two of the Class 1 railroads serving POLB. (POLB photo)

state governments through grants designed to increase cargo capacity and velocity, notes Dave Kalata, the port’s director of containerized cargo. “We were happy to put that piece of the puzzle together before deepening the harbor to 47 feet,” he says. “We are able to accommodate increasing volumes having these facilities available to customers that need them.” Jaxport

is using its

enhanced intermodal infrastructure to position itself as a transloading center for cargo originating in or destined to the entire eastern

half of the country. Florida is an important destination in itself for cargo, being the third-largest state in the country by population and home to three of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation—Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa. All this suggests, according to Kalata, that carriers will be more likely

to carry backhauls

when bringing cargo in and out of the port of Jacksonville. Jaxport is considering

pushing for the repurposing of an existing intermodal ramp into a full-blown inland port. “CSX already operates a ramp in Water Haven that can be used to move intermodal shipments into central Florida,”

says Kalata. “It’s

the same concept as used in South Carolina and Norfolk,” where inland ports are used to position containers headed for, or being moved out of, those port. “Filling empty capacity

helps railroads improve efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints,” says Kalata. BNSF works with new and

existing customers to locate warehouses and distribution centers near intermodal facilities for much of the same reasons. “Collocation enhances intermodal benefits by minimizing inbound dray distance, offering better access to equipment capacity, and grouping supply-chain focused providers together,”

says Williams. BNSF has a logistics parks

strategy that attempts to further integrate rail services into shippers’ supply chains to



JAXPORT’s ICTF provides on-dock rail service to Blount Island Marine Terminal and TraPac Container Terminal with two unit trains each day. (JAXPORT photo)

help them minimize costs of


“Locating distribution centers at one of our logistics parks enables customers to reduce transportation costs through lower drayage charges and more truck turns,” says Williams, “enabling them to burn less fuel and reduce their carbon footprint.” BNSF works to educate customers

new on the

reductions they can realize in their carbon footprint by converting their long-haul shipments from trucks to trains. “A single double-stack intermodal train removes several hundred long-haul freight trucks from highways,” says Williams.

“In 2017

shipping with BNSF enabled our customers to reduce their carbon emissions by 37.5 million metric tons, which is equivalent to removing the resultant emission of more than eight-million vehicles annually.” All of these factors suggest

that the stars are aligned in favor of intermodal’s continued growth. “We feel optimistic about intermodal,” says Kajfasz. “Even in the face of tariffs and economic uncertainty, there is a strong demand for moving intermodal across North America.”

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