PANYNJ said the new US$149 million Port Jersey rail facility, part of what is known as the ExpressRail system, was a “major milestone” in efforts to enhance the movement of cargo by rail, claiming the expansion would “reduce congestion and emissions and get goods to their final destination more efficiently and at lower cost”.
It said the development was the culmination of a US$600 million capital investment programme dating back to the 1990s that established direct rail access to on-dock and near-dock intermodal rail services at all of its major marine terminals. The facilities were designed to reduce the port’s historical heavy reliance on trucks to transport cargo that arrives at the port via ship to its final destination. Trucks still account for moving 85% of the containers on and off port terminals today.
PANYNJ said the opening of the rail facility would allow the port to advance its strategic five-year goal to handle more than 900,000 rail lifts a year, the equivalent of 1.5 million fewer truck trips travelling through the local roads.
The initial phase of the US$149 million ExpressRail Port Jersey intermodal facility, which began service yesterday, consists of four tracks − designed for active loading and unloading of cargo from the GCT Bayonne terminal − that connect to a lead track to and from the main freight rail network. It also consists of two rail-mounted gantry cranes to load and unload containers in the intermodal yard. By the middle of this year, the facility will be fully built out to an eight-track working pad, two lead tracks, as well as additional support and train storage track.
PANYNJ said the intermodal facility would help support the port’s cargo growth and have an annual capacity of 250,000 container lifts. It connects the main terminal at Port Jersey – the post-panamax GCT Bayonne container terminal operated by Global Container Terminals – to CSX and Norfolk Southern’s rail network, allowing shippers to efficiently and seamlessly transfer their cargo from ship to rail and reach key inland markets in the Midwest, New England and elsewhere in a timely manner.
“Given the highly competitive nature of the port business, we need to assure shippers that we have best-in-class infrastructure and service in place to meet growing demand and to allow cargo to be moved in a smooth, efficient, timely and environmentally friendly manner to wherever its final destination may be,” said chairman, Kevin O’Toole.
“With more than 75% of the vessels arriving in the Port of New York and New Jersey as their first call, an efficient rail cargo system can deliver cargo to an inland destination before the vessel reaches the next US port, making our port a far more attractive destination for shippers. This project, and others we are doing throughout the Port of New York and New Jersey, will ensure that we maintain our competitive edge and continue our long-standing designation as the leading port of choice on the east coast.”
Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton commented: “This port is a pivotal gateway not only for goods destined for the 27 million consumers in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, but for the millions of others in markets within 250 miles of the port. Expanding our ability to move cargo by rail is a smart business decision that ensures that we can continue to move cargo expeditiously through the port and do it quickly, cost efficiently and in an environmentally friendly, sustainable way.”
John Atkins, president of terminal operator GCT USA, commented: “GCT USA commenced a comprehensive terminal expansion in 2009. The new rail terminal known as GCT Bayonne ExpressRail Port Jersey is the second important milestone in the project.
“In 2014, GCT completed the first phase that included the addition of a second berth at GCT Bayonne, featuring two super post-Panamax cranes and 20 semi-automated rail mounted gantry cranes, supported by advanced systems operating the facility. The new technology investment enabled the implementation of the Truck Appointment System in 2017, providing an efficient yard and gate operation while putting GCT Bayonne at the technological forefront of marine terminal operators in North America.
“Coupled with the highest crane productivity in the harbour and now completing the ExpressRail facility in 2019, the intermodal yard provides our customers with a first port-of-call advantage for their rail cargo. GCT Bayonne is extremely well-positioned to provide our customers superior service for both local and intermodal cargos.”
The cost of the GCT Bayonne ExpressRail Port Jersey facility is $149 million, including $56 million for GCT USA to build the work pads. The remainder of the project, including lead tracks and storage track, accounts for the remainder of the investment.
PANYNJ said the $149 million “is recoverable over time through monies collected through the Cargo Facility Charge, a fee assessed on cargo shipped through the Port of New York and New Jersey to cover the costs of critical road, rail, and security infrastructure projects. However, Port Authority capital funds were initially used to build the facility.”
The authority said every container moved at GCT Bayonne ExpressRail Port Jersey eliminates 1.5 truck trips. Over the life of this intermodal facility, emission reductions resulting from the switch from truck to rail transport is expected to total 415 tonnes of nitrogen oxide and 108 tonnes of particulate matter, or the equivalent of taking more than 45,300 cars off the road. It also will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 18,300 tonnes annually.