On-Dock Rail Increases In S. Calif: On-dock rail volume at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is on track to set another record this year. Shippers and ocean carriers are loading more containers on trains at ports instead of at off-dock rail transfer yards. On-dock rail volume in the first half of the year accounted for 23.5 percent of the container volume moving through the port complex, according to the Port of Long Beach. That was up from 20.7 percent in 2005 and 18.1 percent in 2004. In the first six months of 2006, Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway handled 967,332 containers from on-dock railyards at marine terminals. The railroads handled 1.6 million on-dock moves for all of 2005.
Tommy Stramer, Zim Executive, Dies: Tommy Stramer, president of Zim America Integrated Shipping Services Ltd., died suddenly on July 29 after being stricken by a heart attack in Norfolk, Va. He was 59. Stramer had been head of Zim's American operations, based in Norfolk, since October 2004, when he succeeded Shaul Cohen-Mintz. Previously he had been vice president of Zim in Israel, and was the second-ranking executive in the company under Chief Executive Doron Goder. Stramer had been with Zim since 1974. He is survived by his wife, Tami, three grown children and one grandchild.
Katrina's Impact Continues For ISC: International Shipholding Corp. incurred continuing losses in the second quarter and for the first six months of 2006 as a result of Hurricane Katrina's impact on its rail ferry terminal in New Orleans. The diversified carrier, which announced in June that it will move its headquarters to Mobile from New Orleans, said its net loss from operations for the three months ended June 30 was $6.5 million, including an after-tax charge of $8.9 million for damage to the New Orleans rail ferry. The double-ramp terminal was to have been completed last October for use in the cross-Gulf service of subsidiary CG Railway. However, since Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, CG Railway has been able to use only a single deck on its barges. After Congress instructed the Corps of Engineers to plan for closure of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet canal where the terminal was located, CG Railway reached agreement last month with the Alabama State Port Authority for construction of a new terminal in Mobile, to open in late 2006 or early 2007. ISC's second-quarter results also were affected by the scheduled dry-docking of a coal carrier and a drop in eastbound cargoes on its trans-Atlantic LASH service, partly as a result of Katrina.
Horizon Reverses Second-Quarter Loss: Horizon Lines reported net income of $6.4 million in the second quarter, compared with a net loss of $4.1 million a year earlier. Excluding one-time items related to its initial public offering last year, the Charlotte, N.C.-based line posted adjusted net income of $7 million, up from $4.4 million a year earlier. Operating income surged to $22.4 million from $12 million, while operating revenue increased 7.1 percent to $289.8 million. Higher freight rates and an improved cargo mix more than offset some volume softness in the quarter. Horizon is the largest carrier operating in the domestic Jones Act trades, serving Puerto Rico, Alaska, Hawaii and Guam.
China Service Hits Matson Earnings: Matson Navigation Co. said second-quarter revenue growth was largely offset by start-up costs for the line's service between South China and the West Coast. Matson, a unit of Alexander & Baldwin of Honolulu, said net income edged up to $30.2 million from $29.4 million a year earlier. Matson in February expanded into the trans-Pacific with a service from South China to Long Beach. The additional cargo volumes generated in the Asian trade helped boost Matson's by revenue 10 percent to $243.6 million. Container volume in the Hawaii-to-mainland service declined, reflecting lower shipments of agricultural products and military-related household items. Automobile volume fell by 22 percent. Matson's operating profit fell 37 percent to $24.4 million. In addition to the China service costs, Matson also experienced higher fuel and increased terminal-handling costs.
Pacer Posts Higher Profit: Pacer International said higher intermodal volume pushed its second-quarter net income to $14.5 million from $9.9 million a year earlier. Operating income increased to $25.2 million from $9.8 million. Pacer said its retail intermodal income showed solid growth that it expects to continue, and that the company's wholesale intermodal business also remained strong. For the first six months of the year, net income grew to $28.4 million from $15.9 million a year earlier. Income from operations increased to $49.6 million from $30.9 million.
Bill Would Provide HMT Exemption: A bill that could benefit short-sea shipping in the Great Lakes has been filed in the House. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, introduced the bill, which would exempt all but bulk cargo moving between U.S. ports on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway from paying the harbor maintenance tax. The proceeds from the tax on a vessel's cargo go to pay for dredging of harbors, something municipal harbors that host short-sea services say they don't need. The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Fla., filed a similar bill in July 2005, but the committee has taken no action.