Port of Oakland seeks to move more cargo via rails
New yard, growing exports, even bulk shipments hold promise
Oakland, Calif. – May 30, 2017: Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle says that he wants more rail business here. He told a meeting of railroad executives in San Francisco last week that the Port is poised to make it happen.
“We have two outstanding partners at the Port in the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads,” Mr. Lytle told the annual meeting of the North American Rail Shippers Association. “And everyone in Oakland would like to see more cargo move in and out of the city on the rails than over the road.”
Oakland’s Executive Director briefed more than 270 industry leaders and cargo owners on the state of West Coast Ports. He said Oakland is building momentum following a record year for loaded container volume in 2016. He added, however, that there’s plenty of room to grow on the rails.
Ports rely on railroads or trucks to transport ocean shipments to-and-from the docks. Mr. Lytle said both major West Coast railroads operate at far less than capacity in Oakland. The reason: the Port’s primary market for containerized cargo is Northern California – more efficiently served by trucks than trains. But he added that Oakland’s rail profile could improve soon thanks to recent investments at the Port.
Late last year the Port completed a $100 million rail storage yard with 41,000 feet of tracks. The facility, within sight of Oakland marine terminals, should be ideally located for export shippers, Mr. Lytle said. He envisioned 100-car grain trains rolling into Oakland, then transferring cargo to containers for ocean transport.
In mid-2018, Cool Port Oakland will open, Mr. Lytle said. The 300,000-square-foot refrigerated facility will be the pivot point for exporting beef, pork and chicken to Asia. Those shipments will likely come from the Midwest in rail cars, then go into ocean containers at Cool Port Oakland. Mr. Lytle said the facility would be able to handle 36 refrigerated rail cars at one time.
Developments next door to the Port could generate even more rail traffic, the Executive Director said. They’re going up on city-owned land that was formerly part of the Oakland Army Base. They could attract cargo shipped in bulk – not a staple at the Port, but a likely candidate for the Port’s rail yard.
Mr. Lytle said rail transport is the preferred means of shipping cargo in and out of the Port. It takes trucks off the road, he said, reducing freeway congestion and diesel emissions.
About the Port of Oakland
The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland seaport, Oakland International Airport, and 20 miles of waterfront including Jack London Square. Together with its business partners, the Port supports more than 73,000 jobs in the region and nearly 827,000 jobs across the United States. Connect with the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport through Facebook, or with the Port on Twitter, YouTube, and at www.portofoakland.com.
Port of Oakland