The Virginia Port Authority is expanding its market for discretionary container shipments into the Southeast and the Midwest through two new rail services.
Norfolk Southern Railway launched a new double-stack service early this month that connects the Virginia ports with Greensboro, N.C., through a linkup with trains at the main NS north-south trunk line at Lynchburg, Va. NS and the VPA are draying containers from Norfolk International Terminals and APM Terminals Portsmouth to the NS rail hub at Chesapeake where they are loaded onto a train that connects with another train at Lynchburg for transport to Greensboro.
CSX Transportation, which now operates a service to the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, will extend that service in the first quarter of 2012 to APM Terminals Portsmouth. The line will transport containers to and from APM’s new $175 million intermodal hub near North Baltimore, Ohio, which will serve the region’s heavy industrial shippers.
The new NS rail connection to Greensboro will extend the port’s markets for cargo moving in and out of the Virginia ports into the central North Carolina region and may be extended farther south if the demand develops. The six-day-a-week service will provide direct access to the Virginia ports for shippers in the textile, furniture, retail, chemical and agricultural commodities.
“If a cargo owner that ships 20 boxes a month on 20 trucks can put those boxes on a train all at once and have it all dropped at the ramp, those 20 turns at the ramp are a lot more economical than 20 turns between Greensboro and Norfolk,” VPA spokesman Joe Harris said.