The was joined by two of its rail partners in dedicating the Napoleon Intermodal Rail Yard, a new facility permitting efficient ship to rail transfer of cargo containers at the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal.
The rail yard provides a new link for NAFTA commerce. Its dedication was announced as U.S. President George Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon meet in for the annual North American Leadership Summit.
CN, with a rail network spanning the U.S. Midwest and , is the first Class 1 railroad to serve the new rail yard via its switching agent, the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad. CN is currently hauling about 350 to 400 containers per week using the facility, which is equipped with four 1,700-foot-long tracks with concrete pads enabling cranes to transfer containers between trucks and rail cars.
The New Orleans Public Belt provides access to the for the CN and five other railroads. New Orleans Terminal is the terminal operator that leases the intermodal railyard from the Port. New Orleans Terminal and Ports America each operate half of the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal, where the containers that are shipped into the rail terminal are loaded or unloaded onto ships. The International Longshoremen’s Association provides labor for both the intermodal terminal and the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal.
The Port, New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, New Orleans Terminal and Ports America have all contributed to the repairs needed at the intermodal yard.
“The new rail yard represents an efficient way to connect our water and rail transportation networks, and CN’s service to the facility will benefit shippers across the continent,” said Gary LaGrange, president and chief executive officer of the . “We are happy to have a partner with the expertise and history of CN to help pioneer this new service, and we look forward to working with our other railroad partners to expand the use of the terminal.”
With six of the nation’s seven Class 1 railroads meeting at the of , LaGrange said the port is “truly ’s premier transhipment hub.”
CN has a Y-shaped network extending from on ’s West Coast to on ’s East Coast, with a trunk running down the through , to . CN already handles steel imports and other cargo originating from the of , but CN’s use of the intermodal terminal represents a significant push to move container cargo through .
Cargo containers – 20- or 40-foot-long metal boxes – are specifically designed for easy transfer between different transportation modes, such as marine vessels, railroads and trucks. New facilities such as the Napoleon Intermodal Terminal bring an additional element of convenience because they are located near the terminal where ships load and unload containers.
The Napoleon Avenue Intermodal Railyard is a public rail terminal allowing any of the six railroads with a presence in to use it to link to the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal. The container terminal has an annual capacity of 366,000 containers and weekly ocean services on multiple shipping lines to Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, the East and of South America and .
“As an operator of the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal we have a vested interest in maintaining the utmost standards of customer service and convenience for businesses who want to take advantage of the facilities and shipping line services available in ,” said Terry Laughlin, Assistant Vice President of New Orleans Terminals.
The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad switches railcars that originate or are destined for the , including the railcars that CN will be using for its new intermodal service.
“The New Orleans Public Belt connects the six railroads that operate in to each other and to the Port. We look forward to working with all the railroads to establish services to the Napoleon Intermodal Rail Yard,” said Jim Bridger, General Manager of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.
The development of the Napoleon Intermodal Rail Yard is part of the Port’s $1-billion 2020 Master Plan. The seven-acre railyard is part of a 26-acre property that the Port bought from CN in 2002. The 2020 Master Plan calls for the expansion of the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal on the property. That construction plan also includes additional improvements to the rail yard to maximize the throughput of containers at the site.