Building on an initiative announced earlier this year to encourage shippers to use the Port Authority’s ExpressRail system, the agency’s Board of Commissioners approved a new incentive program to encourage shippers to transport their cargo via new rail routes.
The program will provide an incentive of $25 per container shipped by rail to any company booking a container on a railroad to or from a new ExpressRail origin or destination that was started since the beginning of the year.
For example, Norfolk Southern recently began to offer rail service from the Port of New York and New Jersey to Harrisburg, PA. This location has traditionally been served by truck because of its proximity to the port.
In January, the Port Authority initially offered shippers a $25 per box incentive for each container they transport by rail above the number they transported the previous year.
Under the initial program, if an ocean carrier increases its rail cargo business in 2009 over 2008 levels, it would receive a $25 incentive for each additional container it ships by rail over that amount.
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “This incentive program leverages our $600 million investment in on-dock rail, and will help further reduce congestion on our local roads and improve local air quality. At the same time, expanding the reach of ExpressRail will help ensure our port remains one of the region’s leading source of jobs and economic activity and the East Coast’s premier shipping destination.”
Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said, “The competition for port business is intense, and we must find creative ways to maintain our competitive edge during difficult economic times. With ports up and down the East Coast competing for a greater share of the international cargo business, we believe incentives such as this one will help level the playing field and allow us to maintain our standing as the East Coast’s No. 1 port.”
During 2008, the Port of New York and New Jersey set a new record for its on-dock rail system, transporting 377,827 containers for the year, a nearly 6% increase over 2007. This year, due to the national economic downturn, cargo business is down approximately 17% in the first quarter, resulting in a corresponding decline in rail business.
The Port Authority is looking to the future, and is currently working to upgrade its ExpressRail facilities in Newark, Elizabeth and Staten Island. This summer, two major projects are scheduled for completion – the opening of a second lead track into ExpressRail Elizabeth, and the completion of a rail support facility along Corbin Street. These projects will nearly double the port’s rail capacity and improve overall rail service.