Freight Trains Could Help Decongest Long Beach Port

With shipping delays worsening and cargo building up in Los Angeles County ports, authorities are starting to use freight trains to alleviate the problem.

The Port of Long Beach, the Utah Inland Port Authority and the Union Pacific Railroad have announced a new partnership to quickly move cargo from terminals in Long Beach to Salt Lake City for further distribution in the western states.

“It’s worse than I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in the business for about 15 years,” said Jack Dedge, director of the Utah Inland Port Authority.

On this Tuesday, October 19, 2021, a photo of a truck arrives to retrieve a shipping container, driven by ships moored at the Maersk APM Terminals Pacific, Pier 400, Port of Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Damian Dovarganes) (AP press room)

The authority is partnering with Union Pacific to use freight trains to decongest the unprecedented backlog at the Port of Long Beach and deliver goods to those waiting.

“Work with them, try to unclog the system and actually create a relief valve,” Hedge said.

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Cargo at the Port of Long Beach can often be removed one container at a time and placed on trucks for delivery to all western states. But Union Pacific says there might be a more efficient way.

Kristen South, senior director of corporate communications for Union Pacific Railroad, explained that a freight train can empty many more containers than a truck, which could help free up more space in the desperately congested port. .

They don’t have to stop at the port and put their payloads on trucks. They can just go straight by train, ”South said.

Shipping containers are unloaded from a ship at a container terminal at the Port of Long Beach-Port of Los Angeles complex, Los Angeles, April 7, 2021. (REUTERS / Lucy Nicholson / File Photo) (Photo Reuters)

Union Pacific encourages the removal of multiple containers from Long Beach at a time via freight train. The containers will be sent to Union Pacific’s intermodal facility in Salt Lake City. From there, the cargo will be sent to its final destination by train or truck.

“Inside those boxes is anything and everything you can imagine, from televisions and washing machines to clothes and cell phones,” South said.

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“So it’s really about creating an alternate route to bring things to market so that the whole system runs better and easier and gets things to us sooner,” Hedge said.

Since announcing the partnership last week, Union Pacific says it has garnered a lot of interest from Long Beach shipping lines. It’s too early to know how much cargo will be redirected to Salt Lake, but the company says the possibilities are endless.

“It’s a solution. It’s not the solution, but it’s a solution to part of the problem,” Hedge said.

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As of this week, authorities in Long Beach can now impose fines on companies responsible for persistent containers. Part of the traffic jam in Southern California is due to a shortage of truck drivers to pick up the goods.

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