The Port Authority recently completed Tracks 10-18 at the ExpressRail Elizabeth facility, and with improvements at the Corbin Street Yard to be completed over the summer of 2009, the Port of NY/NJ will be able to handle three additional 10,000-foot trains daily.
The twinned efforts are part of the Port Authority’s $600 million port-wide investment in on-dock rail, which includes ExpressRail Elizabeth (serving Maher and APM Terminals), ExpressRail Newark (which serves the Port Newark Container Terminal), and ExpressRail Staten Island (serving New York Container Terminal at Howland Hook).
Once paved, new tracks at ExpressRail Elizabeth afford the facility a total of 18 tracks.
The full development includes the addition of a second lead track to the ExpressRail Elizabeth terminal that will provide greater operating flexibility and capacity by allowing the simultaneous arrival and departure of trains at the facility. When finished, the ExpressRail system will be able to handle 1.5 million containers annually, according to Don Lotz, Manager of Intermodal Development at the Port of NY/NJ.
In addition to on-dock enhancements, the railroads, as part of the federal Liberty Corridor project, are working on projects that will enhance capacity at the Port of New York and New Jersey and in the region. The North Jersey Railroad Doublestack Clearance Program is slated for 2009-2010. The program will raise vertical clearances on the Conrail “National Docks” railroad line between the Port of
New York and New Jersey and the CSX mainline, serving the U.S. rail network. The projects at the Bergen Hill Tunnel, the Waldo Tunnel and the removal of two Conrail Bridges will enable CSX trains directly serving on-port container terminals to operate with double stacking of the high-cube containers increasingly favored for intermodal transportation.
The Port Reading Junction project in Somerset County, NJ (also a part of the Liberty Corridor Project) lies along the Norfolk Southern (NS) Lehigh Main Line, the primary corridor for NS intermodal trains serving the Midwest and Canadian markets. The improvements will alleviate a structural chokepoint where New Jersey connects to the rest of the North American rail system.
“Together, these projects will strengthen the multimodal services available to regional manufacturers, suppliers and receivers that are located near the port’s ExpressRail system terminals,” says Lotz.
There’s a significant demand for rail,” said Peter Zantal, General Manager of Strategic Analysis and Industry Relations. “In 2007, the port moved 358,000 intermodal containers, more than double the volume in 2000. While environmental concerns have driven some of the growth as people switch to fuel-efficient rail transport, more shippers are choosing the port as the rail gateway to North America because we have the capacity, and we’re continuing to build to meet their needs,” he explained.
Indeed, the port’s rail business in February broke all records for that month with a total of 30,320 containers—a 31 percent increase over February 2007. ExpressRail Staten Island, the newest facility in the ExpressRail system, set its own record in February with 4,905 containers. Overall, the port’s rail volume has grown faster than the national average.
Recently expanded service at ExpressRail Staten Island and Port Newark added Worcester, St. Louis and Kansas City to the existing destinations of Columbus, Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit. CSX added service to Buffalo to its roster of destinations for the Port of NY/NJ through an intermodal service at South Kearny. In addition to the major Midwest terminals, NS offers service between the port and Pittsburgh and, in conjunction with Canadian Pacific Railway, Montreal and Toronto.