Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for February 15 - February 19, 2010:
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Wednesday, February 17 , 2010

Top Story

Crescent Corridor gets TIGER by the tail

The 2,500-mile Crescent Corridor Intermodal Freight Rail Project was awarded $105 million through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s $1.5 billion Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TGER) program.

The Norfolk-Southern Railroad plans construction of intermodal freight hubs in McCalla, Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee at a reported cost of $224 million.

There are also plans to improve the rail corridor with 10 passing tracks, 557 speed improvements and 393 miles of upgraded trackage.

Coming in at a close second at $100 million awarded, are the 16 rail congestion improvement projects that fall under the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency program (CREATE).

The TIGER program was included in the Recovery Act as part of President Obama’s national initiative for what the D.O.T. outlined in a statement today as “innovative, multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional transportation projects that promise significant economic and environmental benefits to an entire metropolitan area, a region or the nation.” The types of projects funded with the $1.5 billion include improvements to roads, bridges, rail, ports, transit and intermodal facilities.

The D.O.T. said it was flooded with more than 1,400 applications from all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia requesting funding for almost $60 billion worth of projects – 40 times the amount available through the program.

“TIGER grants will tackle the kind of major transportation projects that have been difficult to build under other funding programs,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Sixty percent of the funding was awarded to what the D.O.T. described as “economically distressed areas, which are home to 39 percent of the U.S. population.“

For the complete list of recipients:

Hyundai, Philadelphia port negotiating for vehicle import business

A South Korean automaker is negotiating to put a large vehicle-import business along Philadelphia's waterfront, and create at least 250 jobs.

The auto-finishing facility for Hyundai and Kia vehicles would be on about 90 acres owned by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority beside the Walt Whitman Bridge.

"If - and it's a huge if - we get this business, it's going to be at least 100 ships a year filled with cars," said Robert C. Blackburn, the port authority's senior deputy executive director.

The port authority in October entered into a lease with Philly Ro-Ro Partners, a company serving as the middleman for this deal, to bring a car-finishing import facility to an area that includes a parking lot, known as Pier 98 annex, at Columbus Boulevard and Oregon Avenue.

-Philadelphia Inquirer

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Virginia senate bill passes on VPA property lease term limit

Sen. John Miller's bill that would prohibit the sale of Virginia Port Authority property or any leases longer than 20 years unanimously passed the Virginia Senate this afternoon and is headed for the House.

Miller, D-Newport News, told the Daily Press last week that the bill's goal is to "safeguard our largest investment."

The legislation would require the governor's approval on any lease of port property and sets a series of conditions the port must meet before entering into a joint venture or partnership with a private operator.

If passed, the legislation could significantly affect three pending privatization bids submitted last year and might affect the port authority's ongoing talks with private operator APM Terminals Inc. regarding a potential 20-year lease agreement.

-The Daily Press

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Pacer reports Q4 profit

Freight transportation and logistics services provider Pacer International Inc. on Tuesday said it moved to a fourth-quarter profit from a year-ago period weighed by a hefty charge.

In the last quarter of 2009, Pacer earned $10 million, or 29 cents per share, compared with a year-ago loss of $64 million, or $1.83 per share. The 2008 quarter included an after-tax charge of $73.3 million related to an acquisition.

Revenue fell 17.7 percent to $420.2 million from $510.3 million.

For the full year, the company lost $174.1 million, or $5.01 per share, compared with a loss of $16.4 million, or 47 cents per share, in 2008. Revenue fell to $1.57 billion from $2.09 billion.

-Business Week

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Dockworker dies at Deltaport, BC

A worker has been killed in a ramp collapse at a dock on the Fraser River in Delta, B.C.

The accident happened Tuesday evening just before seven p.m. at the Tilbury Terminal, a cargo facility south of Vancouver. A release from Seaspan Coastal Intermodal says one of its employees was making adjustments for an arriving vessel when the ramp at berth four collapsed, throwing the man into the river.

Despite immediate efforts by the unnamed man's co-workers, rescue vessels and Delta Police, the body was not found until coast guard divers arrived to do an underwater search.

Seaspan says it is conducting an internal review.

It also says it will work with all regulatory bodies as an investigation of the accident gets underway.

-Canadian Press

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Thursday, February 18 , 2010

Top Story

Railroad group wants less federal regulation

Freight railroads are at a critical point in their history, facing new challenges from federal regulatory mandates, according to Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger.

At a press conference for the release of the AAR report, Great Expectations: Railroads and U.S. Economic Recovery, Hamberger contended freight railroads have been able to weather the economic downturn, but could face even more difficult times from federal policy-making.

"Freight rail is the only mode of transportation that is almost entirely self sustaining," Hamberger said. Despite the 2009’s recession, freight railroads invested approximately $9 billion upgrading and modernizing the nation's rail network, he said.

"We sustain a healthy national rail system with private capital and we also deliver tremendous public, economic and job benefits to American businesses and consumers."

According to the AAR report, freight railroads generate nearly $265 billion in total annual economic activity, and directly or indirectly support more than 1.2 million U.S. jobs.

The AAR also referenced that more than 90 percent of Amtrak's passenger rail operation moves on track rights-of-way owned by the freight railroads.

The AAR’s report comes out on the heels of the news this week of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s announcement that $1.5 billion has been awarded out of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TGER) program. Freight rail improvements were one of the primary winners of the federal funds, including over $300 million for three major rail corridors – the 2,500-mile Crescent Corridor that originates in the U.S. Southeast, rail congestion improvements in the major rail hub of Chicago, and the National Gateway Freight Rail Corridor in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland.

Nevertheless, the AAR report takes exception to what it terms “costly federal mandates” such as concerns over balancing Obama Adminstration’s passenger rail initiative with freight right-of-way priorities; expanded, Federal safety regulations; climate change policy, and more overall regulation of the industry.

"Railroads face new policy initiatives that could hamper our ability to meet the great expectations America now has for rail to aid in our economic recovery," Hamberger said. "Select legislative and regulatory proposals are creating an air of uncertainty at a time when there is already too much of that. When so much is riding on freight rail's ability to sustain a healthy national rail network necessary to help America through to economic recovery, now is not the time to undermine our financial viability."

Freight index increased 2.9 percent for last 7 months of 2009

The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) increased 2.9 percent over the last seven months of 2009, beginning in June, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

In May, the index was at its lowest level since June 1997. The Freight TSI was down 14.8 percent from its historic peak of 112.9 reached in May 2006.

Will slow steaming for Maersk pay off?

It took more than a month for the container ship Ebba Maersk to steam from Germany to Guangdong, China, where it unloaded cargo on a recent Friday — a week longer than it did two years ago.

But for the owner, the Danish shipping giant Maersk, that counts as progress.

Maersk has also shouldered the labor costs of having crews at sea for longer periods and added two ships on its Germany-to-China route to maintain scheduled deliveries. But those expenses were canceled out by decreased fuel costs, it said.

Now Maersk is working with customers in the hopes of slowing more boats and contemplating charging customers variable rates, depending on speed.

-NY Times

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ACL, NYK raise rates

Atlantic Container Line announced a general rate increase on its North America-North Europe service. Effective April 1, 2010, the rate each way would be $250 per-TEU and $400 per-FEU.

Japan’s NYK Line announced a Peak Season surcharge of $325 per-TEU from March 1, 2010 on its shipments from Asia to Europe, including Northern Europe, the East and West Mediterranean, and the Black Sea.

Friday, February 19 , 2010

Top Story

Domestic container volume rose 9 percent in Q4

Domestic container volume for the fourth quarter of 2009 increased 9 percent over the same period a year ago, pushing 2009’s total volume to 2.9 percent over 2008’s final numbers, according to figures released by the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA).

December’s domestic box volume was 16.9 percent over last year’s levels, while International container volume declined 12.3 percent during the fourth quarter of 2009.

However IANA reported the pace of that decline slowed significantly from the previous three quarters of last year and for the same period in 2008. Total intermodal volume for the fourth quarter of 2009 was 6.4 percent below fourth quarter of 2008.

Ports of Portland, Vancouver USA support new $3.6 bil interstate bridge

A political skirmish over the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River is heating up today, as ports from Vancouver and Portland and a prominent labor organization voiced their support for pushing the project forward without delay.

The ports of Portland and Vancouver said today they support efforts by the governors of each state to finish planning for a $3.6 billion replacement for the Interstate Bridge this year.

-The Oregonian

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Additional Note: The 3rd Annual Northwest Intermodal Conference – - in Portland, May 11-12, will feature the I-5 Colubmia Crossing topic in the “Ask The Experts” segment on May 11 by Doug Ficco, Director, Project Delivery, Columbia River Crossing project

Analysis: Are new Boeing freighters poised to capture trans-Pac market?

Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals saw a 48% increase in tonnage last month; a 64% climb in import activity alongside over 50% increase in exports YoY. Hong Kong International Airport overall saw a huge YoY leap by some 43% in air freight tonnage.

Japan Airlines’ December 2009 YoY freight volume grew by 30% while rival All Nippon Airways grew by over 70% for the same period.

Orders for Boeing’s 747-8F remain intact (except two cancellations) primarily because the signs of a turnaround are emerging more often than not. The pace of improved volume and tonnage still has the propensity to be erratic, but with almost no demand for 747 conversions, older 747-400Fs are being stood down and withdrawn from service from operators such as Cathay Pacific who are investing now to block out slots for the worlds newest freighter in a prudent, pre-emptive move.

-Gerson Lehman Group

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Body falls from cargo plane wheel well during takeoff

A body fell from the wheel well of a cargo plane just as it took off from the Dominican Republican for Miami, the Federal Aviation Administration says.

The Amerijet Boeing 767 landed safely at Miami International Airport Thursday afternoon where investigators examined it for evidence, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

The body remained in Santo Domingo.

There was no immediate word on the identity of the victim.


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