Freight business booming at Staten Island container terminal

December 1, 2008 at 5:35 pm 1 comment

Booming business at the New York Container Terminal means so many truck-sized containers are being loaded onto freight trains in the Arlington Rail Yard, that for the first time, there are enough cars to roll all the way to their destinations, including Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland, without stopping first in New Jersey to pick up more cargo.

It’s the latest success story to come out of the Mariners Harbor port, which has so far defied the economic downturn and is doing more business than ever before, with a 41 percent uptick in containers lifted on and off ships year-to-date over the same period last year.

The rail service, which was officially launched yesterday with a celebration at the rail yard, has been in operation since Labor Day and has already removed 5,000 trucks off the borough’s roads and bridges.

While the expanded rail service means the DVD players, furniture, motorcycles and clothing that arrives on Staten Island will be on their way to stores in other states sooner, it also means less truck traffic for Staten Islanders, who will share the road with 45,000 fewer tractor trailers each year.

Since rail service was reactivated last year, train cars full of cargo unloaded from the ships have been traveling over the blue Arthur Kill Lift Bridge next to the Goethals Bridge to ExpressRail ports in Elizabeth and Newark, N.J., where they would add more train cars before going on to their destinations.

But thanks to the addition of two more shipping companies which now stop at the borough’s port, cargo volume has grown far faster than anticipated, with business now at levels initially expected to take another three years to reach.

“We have created more economic vitality for Staten Island,” said terminal President Jim Devine. “We’re working to reduce the congestion on the roads and improve the environmental viability of this facility.”

The move to rail is a boon for a borough that is choking on traffic, said City Councilman and Congressman-elect Michael McMahon, whose work to move containerized garbage by rail has also reduced the number of garbage trucks crossing the Goethals. “This is an incredible milestone that marks the unanticipated success of Staten Island rail service and opens up possibilities for getting so much more freight on the rail. That means thousands of trucks off our roadway, and is a harbinger of things to come in terms of expanding rail.”

The rail service alone has added more than 14 full-time jobs as part of a total of 53 jobs added at the terminal this year. The port employs 384 Staten Islanders as part of a 450 to 475 full-time workforce which logged more than 11 percent more hours so far this year to handle the increased business.

The new rail service, which is operated by CSX, will operate daily to Chicago, Columbus, and Detroit, and on alternate days to Cleveland; East St. Louis, Ill.; Kansas City, Mo., and Worcester, Mass.

Borough President James Molinaro, an ardent port supporter, hailed the return to rail for its reductions to traffic and pollution. According to the city’s Economic Development Corp., trains can move one ton of freight more than 423 miles on only one gallon of fuel.

“I used to walk Arlington Yards, wondering what we would find,” said Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward, who was instrumental in purchasing the railroad property in the 1990s while he worked with EDC. “We sure didn’t think we’d find the train volumes we have today,” he said.

And staunch rail supporters like Rep. Jerrold Nadler, (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn), hope the success on Staten Island means more similar initiatives city wide, and a boost for the proposed Cross-Harbor Freight Tunnel, which would also lessen the load of trucks traveling through the borough by sending cargo by rail from Jersey City to Brooklyn.

Booming business at the New York Container Terminal in Staten Island’s Mariners Harbor neighborhood means there are so many truck-sized containers being loaded onto freight trains in the Arlington Yard, that for the first time, there are enough cars to roll all the way to their destinations, including Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit, and Cleveland, without stopping first in New Jersey to pick up more cargo.

Since the freight line was reactivated last year, train cars full of cargo unloaded from container ships have been traveling over the blue Arthur Kill Lift Bridge next to the Goethals Bridge to ExpressRail ports in Elizabeth and Newark, N.J., where they would add more train cars before going on to their destinations.

But thanks to the addition of two more shipping companies which now stop at the borough’s port, cargo volume has grown far faster than anticipated, with business now at levels initially expected to take another three years to reach.

The new rail service will operate daily to Chicago, Columbus, and Detroit, and on alternate days to Cleveland; East St. Louis, Ill.; Kansas City, Mo., and Worcester, Mass.

All told, the freight trains account for about 45,000 fewer truck trips on Staten Island roads each year.

by Maura Yates
Staten Island Advance

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Entry filed under: Dive In, Maritime, Staten Island. Tags: , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. atlanta logistics  |  December 3, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    While this is good news for the railways it is depressing news for the NY truckers. Although gas prices have dropped recently we all know its only temporary. Surging gas prices over the last 2 years caused fuel surcharges to rise to over 30% of the freight bill.
    It’s no wonder people are looking to the railways now.

    The funny thing is that most people don’t know is that there is a specific way to beat the fuel surcharges.

    Reply

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