Norfolk Southern (NS), Union Pacific (UP), the Port of Virginia and Hapag-Lloyd are offering shippers a new option to reach West Coast markets, NS reported on June 8.
Hapag-Lloyd now serves the Port of Virginia, the only U.S. East Coast stop for the ocean carrier. Cargo is unloaded at Norfolk International Terminal—the largest of six Port of Virginia terminals—and hauled to Chicago by NS and on to California by UP.
The new service, called OceaNS Bridge Express, was piloted in mid-April with the arrival of the Synergy Antwerp. Nearly 1,000 of the vessel’s containers were moved from Norfolk, Va., via rail to the ports of Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif., according to the Port of Virginia.
Hapag-Lloyd includes the Port as part of its weekly Mediterranean Gulf Coast Express, which employs eight Panamax vessels. The port call rotation is: Livorno – Genoa – Barcelona – Valencia – Veracruz – Altamira – Houston – Port of Virginia – Livorno.
“The current environment has led shippers and carriers to think creatively about moving their goods,” said NS Vice President Intermodal and Automotive Marketing Shawn Tureman, who noted that “[t]ogether, we are providing a sustainable and effective coast-to-coast solution to the challenges shippers currently face at West Coast ports.”
“Union Pacific’s Intermodal network is strategically positioned to provide container shippers an alternative with this overland service to the West Coast,” UP Vice President-Premium, Marketing and Sales Kari Kirchhoefer said. “Our joint service product to Seattle/Oakland/Los Angeles/Long Beach will expedite these transatlantic shipments to consumer markets in the west.”
“This is an innovative decision by one of our long-time customers to take advantage of our efficiency and our rail reach into the Midwest,” Virginia Port Authority CEO and Executive Director Stephen A. Edwards said during the April 26 announcement of the service pilot. “It’s a unique service, but it is indicative of a very challenging trade environment. We welcomed the opportunity to be part of the solution for cargo owners on the West Coast.” He added that the Port of Virginia is “investing $1.3 billion between now and 2025 to create more rail capacity; modernize and renovate two of our berths and convert them to an RMG (rail-mounted gantry) operation; [and] dredge our channels to 55 feet deep and widen them for two-way traffic of ultra-large container vessels.”
In 2021, the Port processed nearly 2 million containers and moved more than 640,000 of those units by rail.
In related developments, Canadian Pacific and Hapag-Lloyd on April 25 reported an additional call, via a seasonal extra loader, at New Brunswick’s Port St. John. This follows their inaugural service call in May 2021.