Smart business decisions at PANYNJ

cargo train GCT Bayonne is now connected to CSX and Norfolk Southern rail networks

It could be a very good year for New York/New Jersey, securing No.2 in North American container volume rankings, adding rail capacity and release of a new Masterplan, as AJ Keyes discovers.

It is probably hard to argue against the success of the Master Plan 2030 strategy adopted by the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey (PANYNJ) and everything that PANYNJ achieved while following its recommendations.

It is also timely that as the bi-state authority recently released its new Master Plan 2050 document, the port is targeting the ranking of second largest container port in North America in 2019, over-taking the Port of Long Beach, with only the Port of Los Angeles handling more containers in the current calendar year, as Dean Davison, Technical Director, WSP Maritime Advisory group confirmed.

“At the end of July 2019, with solid growth continuing, the Port of New York/New Jersey had not only closed the gap on Long Beach but surpassed the San Pedro facility, holding the number two ranking in North America, the first time in nearly two decades that New York/New Jersey held this position.”

Looking at the numbers Davison refers to more specifically, in the year-to-date July period, New York/New Jersey handled just over 4.31 million TEU in total, with Long Beach recording just under 4.31 million TEU. In fact, the difference between these two facilities was a mere 8,410 TEU – a tiny proportion of the overall figures for both facilities. Five years ago, for 2014, Long Beach recorded 6.82 million TEU and New York/New Jersey 5.77 million TEU, so a significant difference.

So, volumes have continued to grow and increase strongly year-on-year, as WSP’s Davison notes. “New York/New Jersey remains a key port for Asian cargo via the Suez Canal All-Water routing. Shipping lines want to come to the port because of the massive local market that is available, while increasing overall intermodal rail capacity to around 1.5 million lifts annually also appeals to serve the US Midwest.”

This is a viewed endorsed by terminal operator GCT Bayonne at the port, with GCT USA President confirming at the that time of the company’s $149 million rail terminal project completion in June this year that the aim was to “go after the West Coast” port volumes.

This seems a valid claim now that the new GCT Bayonne terminal is operating with an annual capacity of 250,000 lifts and connectivity to both CSX and Norfolk Southern
(NS) networks. Indeed, NS stated that shippers of 20ft, 40ft and 45ft containers will now have a “new alternative” for moving between GCT Bayonne and Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Detroit – all key inland markets.

Increasing intermodal rail capacity is part of the PANYNJ’s strategic five-year goal to handle the equivalent of 1.5 million fewer truck trips on local roads and significantly reducing road congestion and enhancing air quality.

The true test of the new Master Plan 2050 will be how quickly it begins to implement the strategy and starts to meet its objectives. While the omens may be good, based on the port authority’s recent record of achievements, competition for serving key hinterland markets in the US remains as fierce as other, with almost all other major container ports investing heavily to handle larger ships, increase terminal capacity and putting pressure on service providers in the intermodal rail industry to ensure cost-efficient transportation.

PANYNJ may be sitting high standards for its new masterplan, but these are targets that must be achieved. Port Authority Executive Director, Rick Cotton, recently confirmed
the broader position when he stated that the 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".

However, the executive also emphasised the importance of rail too, stating that the rail expansion and the ability to “move cargo by rail is a smart business decision” when it is completed in a “quick, cost efficient and environmentally-friendly, sustainable way.” Smart business decisions, indeed.


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