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  • Writer's pictureStephen Fodor

East Coast Ports Experience Volume Boom, West Coast Rail Bookings Hard to Come by, Trucking to Rally

Monday Morning Wake Up Call

September 21, 2020

Savannah Ports serves Largest Vessel ever on East Coast

In August, Savannah moved more containers over its docks, more cargo through its rail yards and more trade in and out of its inland terminals than at any other point in its 75-year history.

Last month, the GPA:

  • Moved 441,600 TEUs, an increase of 1 percent or 3,850 TEUs compared to August 2019, in which the previous record was set.

  • Set a record for intermodal cargo, handling 49,402 containers (approximately 89,000 TEUs) by rail.

  • Moved more containers through the Appalachian Regional Port than ever before at 3,420 lifts, an increase of 1,679 or 96 percent.

“The numbers cement Savannah’s position as one of the key hub ports in global trade,” said GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight. “The combination of big ship efficiency, our landside infrastructure and the soon-to-be-completed harbor deepening make Georgia the logical choice for American farms and factories competing in the global marketplace. The Port of Savannah stands ready to support the nation’s exporters as our economy regains momentum.”

Consultant says shippers using U.S. West Coast ports can’t book rail on BNSF and UP

A Northern California logistics consultant was unable to book containers on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) or Union Pacific (UP) railroads for the first week of September going to and from U.S. West Coast ports and Midwest destinations.

The consultant said, “I have been working in the industry for thirty years and I have never seen anything like this. It’s weird.”

The result is that importers of low value products being shipped by containers such as tee shirts would be at an economic disadvantage transporting containers by truck as opposed to by rail between U.S. West Coast ports and Midwest destinations, because of the higher cost.

The consultant explained that there is a huge shortage of rail capacity: “There are no rail cars and there are no chassis.”

The consultant, who is not identified, was contracted to research container rail bookings on the UP and BNSF to and from U.S. West Coast ports including:

  • Los Angeles

  • Long Beach

  • Oakland

  • Seattle

The result of the research was that: “The railroads will not take any bookings right now and so all the containers going to and from the West Coast to places such as Chicago and Memphis must go by truck.”

To Read More:

All signs point to a prolonged trucking rally

(FreightWaves) Bullish commentary from the trucking industry and positive intraquarter updates from carriers have confirmed what the data has been showing for several weeks now: Third-quarter earnings for trucking companies will be strong and that strength may continue for a while.

While second-quarter results came in ahead of lowered expectations, COVID-19’s impact on demand was evident in most financial reports. After a brief inventory restocking rally in March, trucking demand fell as manufacturing lockouts and municipal shutdown ordinances spread. A bottom formed in April with conditions improving throughout the quarter. The “less bad” trend throughout the second quarter has turned into year-over-year growth in the third quarter as carriers are seeing peak-type loads ahead of peak season.

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