Port and Community officials join rail partners Genesee & Wyoming (G&W) and Union Pacific (UP) to celebrate two milestones.
The Port of Hueneme was honored recently by the Railway Industrial Clearance Association (RICA) as 2012’s Most Improved Port. Founded in 1969, the Railway Industrial Clearance Association is dedicated to serving the heavy and dimensional transportation industry, cargos with large dimensions, excess weight or center of gravity or other unusual issues. With over 400 members the association seeks opportunities to solve transportation challenges that lead to improved cooperation between shippers, receivers and railroads to implement common solutions to intermodal problems. The RICA honor was the result of a membership vote at their annual conference in Charleston South Carolina last month.
Port commission President Jason Hodge comment, “We’re honored to have our efforts recognized by this national organization. Improving intermodal freight transportation has been one of our key areas of focus in reducing truck traffic by building a more sustainable intermodal business plan that works for all Port stakeholders.”
The Port also welcomes G&W to the Port of Hueneme as a strong and very competitive rail partner. The Port owns the Ventura County Railway (VCRY), 13 miles of track now to be operated locally by Genesee Wyoming, one of the nation’s largest short line operators, who recently acquired the short haul operation from Rail America. G&W owns and operates short line and regional freight railroads in the United States, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Belgium. They provide rail service at 36 ports in North America, Australia and Europe and perform contract coal loading and railcar switching for industrial customers. Operations currently include 111 railroads organized in 11 regions, with more than 15,000 miles of owned and leased track and approximately 2,500 additional miles under track access arrangements.
Pleased with the new partnership Port CEO and General Manager of the Ventura County Railway Kristin Decas added, “According to Port CEO and Director Kristin Decas, “Auto import tonnage has increased the last two years by 20% and 12% respectively and we see enhanced rail opportunities with this growth. We remain very engaged in creating intermodal solutions utilizing rail by enhancing the partnership between Genesee & Wyoming and Union Pacific Railroad.”
The Ventura County Railway traces its history back to 1902 when the Bakersfield and Ventura Railway was formed in Fillmore. By 1911, when it became clear that the line would not reach Bakersfield it was renamed the Ventura County Railway. Currently several auto processors utilize rail for distribution and the Navy depends on rail to transport Military cargoes.
Moving forward, rail offers the very real opportunity for sustainable growth. By working with its rail partners and customers to maximize the rail system, the Port can build upon existing cargo operations and create hundreds of jobs and generate millions in economic activity. Auto manufacturers are building plants in Mexico creating opportunities to ship autos to the Port and rail them to US markets. Attracting auto imports from Korea is another viable rail-port operation. Rail connections are critical to increasing auto exports making possible, for example, the distribution of imports into the Denver region, and keeping pace with competing West Coast Ports. Rail will also play an important role in the increase of U.S. manufactured automobiles being exported to the growing Asian market. The Port’s refrigerated cargo and liquid bulk customers also see rail as an opportunity to increase their trade base.
The use of rail brings quality of life benefits to the region. Using rail reduces the amount of truck trips thus further reducing congestion and harmful air emissions. According the EPA’s website, rail is 3 times more efficient than trucks. One train can take as many as 280 trucks off the roadway network. The EPA also states on its website that rail is 2 to 4 times cleaner in emissions than trucks. The Port recognizes these benefits and will work hard to secure more transportation via its vital rail network.
The Port of Hueneme is one of the most productive and efficient commercial trade gateways for niche cargo on the West Coast. The Port is governed by five locally elected Port Commissioners. The Port moves $7 billion in goods each year and consistently ranks among the top ten U.S. ports for automobiles and fresh produce. Port operations support the community by bringing $1 billion in economic activity and creating 9,448 trade-related jobs. Trade through the Port of Hueneme generates more than $63 million in annual state and local taxes which funds vital community services.