The Port of Charleston increased its intermodal rail volume by 50 percent since 2011, thanks to efforts aimed at capturing discretionary cargo from major points in the Southeast, Gulf, Midwest and Ohio Valley.

International intermodal rail lifts in Charleston increased 18 percent in 2013 to nearly 145,000 containers. This followed a 27 percent increase in 2012. New initiatives, including the RapidRail drayage program and the South Carolina Inland Port in Greer, are expected to continue driving increases in rail container traffic.

“Charleston offers competitive rail facilities and services, providing our customers an advantage to moving discretionary cargo through our port,” said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. “We’ve seen tremendous growth in intermodal rail traffic over the last two years as more ocean carriers utilize our capable intermodal network to fill their ships with heavy export loads for transit through our natural, deepwater harbor.”

The growth in rail container traffic is also the result of the SCPA’s collaboration with ocean carriers to recruit and direct discretionary cargo to and from Memphis, Atlanta, Nashville, Louisville, Chicago and Cincinnati.

RapidRail, launched by SCPA in April 2012, has also positively impacted rail movements at the port. The program coordinates container movements to and from rail yards, and RapidRail accounts for 85 percent of rail drays. As the only program of its kind in the Southeast, RapidRail provides seamless, cost-effective drayage opportunities with little administrative burden.

Open in November 2013, the South Carolina Inland Port in Greer further enhances the SCPA’s rail capabilities by establishing a new intermodal point along the expanding I-85 corridor in the Upstate of South Carolina. Growth at this facility is expected to further support intermodal cargo movement through Charleston facilities.

The new Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, a joint project with the SC Department of Commerce and Palmetto Railways, will boost intermodal capabilities when it opens in 2018.