POLB+UP+UIPA=‘Rapid Relief’

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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The Port of Long Beach (POLB), Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA) and Union Pacific (UP) are adding capacity to an existing regularly scheduled direct rail intermodal service connecting the Port of Long Beach to Salt Lake City. The initiative is meant to “bring rapid relief from existing port congestion by optimizing rail deliveries between California and Utah.”

UP provides the long-haul service from POLB to UIPA. Upon arrival, UIPA handles distribution via truck or rail to a new destination or to a distribution center. Pricing information has not been disclosed.

In a joint statement, Executive Directors Mario Cordero of the Port of Long Beach and Jack Hedge of the Utah Inland Port Authority said that “the direct, regularly scheduled rail service connecting the Port of Long Beach to Salt Lake City will allow cargo destined for all of the Intermountain West to be rapidly evacuated from terminals in Long Beach to Salt Lake City for further distribution throughout the region. Much of this cargo traditionally moves to Utah, Colorado, Nevada and Idaho by truck, and thus must be removed from the port terminals one container at a time. Reengaging this direct rail service will allow removal of blocks of containers at a time.”

Port of Long Beach. Photo: Don Ramey Logan/Wikipedia

UP said the initiative “is the first implementation of an agreement between POLB and UIPA that focuses on reducing congestion and cost associated with cargo movement through the corridor by optimizing the existing on- and near-dock POLB rail system to reduce dwell times and improve the speed and consistency of rail deliveries to and from Utah. Millions of TEUs of international goods are imported to or exported from the Intermountain West annually, but only 10% of this cargo currently moves by rail. This initiative aims to provide consistent, reliable movement of cargo by rail, which improves fluidity and reduces delays of shipments already set to come to the Intermountain region, rather than increase cargo volume.”

“A direct connection to Utah links two critical points in the supply chain and immediately reduces pressure on terminal storage, gates, chassis and the local drayage community on the coast,” said Cordero. “Not only is this a more efficient service for importers in the Intermountain West, but it’s also a major step forward for exporters from the region.”

“Union Pacific is pleased to support customers in the region,” said Hasan Hyder, General Director of Intermodal at Union Pacific. “Our Salt Lake City facilities offer a perfect relief valve for some of the current port congestion and open a new world of services for companies across the region.”

“Converting road into rail cargo has many benefits and is part of our ongoing drive to reduce impacts associated with cargo movement,” said Hedge. “In addition to providing enhanced efficiency for regional importers and exporters, this service will reduce truck traffic across Utah and positively impact our local air quality and freeway congestion issues.”

Improving cargo visibility is also a key component to untangling the supply chain and improving capacity. UIPA has announced the Intelligent Crossroads Network (ICN), a private 5G and AI (artificial intelligence) network built in partnership with QuayChain Technologies “that will allow cargo tracking, monitoring and planning, and even greater efficiencies for users throughout the corridor connecting Long Beach and Utah.”

“Both UIPA and POLB agree that current issues in the supply chain reveal the urgent need for new ways of doing business and solutions that combine existing resources and new technologies,” Hedge noted. “The ICN allows for the most digitally connected logistics experience possible in the supply chain.”

The Utah Inland Port Authority is a state agency that describes itself as having “a regional approach to increase utilization and expand access for commerce throughout Utah. UIPA improves logistics infrastructure within the statewide system through high-speed broadband and zero emissions tech to revolutionize how logistics are done. One-third of Utah’s GDP, employment and incomes are dependent on the logistics system.”

The Port of Long Beach is the second-busiest seaport in the U.S., with 175 shipping lines connecting it to 217 seaports. POLB claims that it “handles $200 billion in trade annually, supporting more than 575,000 Southern California jobs.”

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