UP Expanding Port Houston Intermodal Service (UPDATED, 11/29)

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
UP is expanding its Houston on-dock rail service.

UP is expanding its Houston on-dock rail service.

Union Pacific (UP) on Dec. 1 will expand its Houston on-dock rail service to four additional markets.

In cooperation with Port Houston, ocean carriers and Beneficial Cargo Owners (BCO) will have access to rail service between Barbours Cut Container Terminal at Port Houston, Tex., and nine key UP-served markets. The on-dock operation, UP says, will “save customers’ time, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and simplify the end-to-end supply chain for all of the Class I railroad’s customers.”

Import and export/empty service will be available Dec. 1 for the following UP intermodal facilities:

  • Chicago Global 4
  • Kansas City
  • Memphis (Marion, AR)
  • Port Laredo

Back in May, Railway Age reported that on June 1 UP would be launching the new on-dock service at Barbours Cut Container Terminal at Port Houston, providing international shippers of consumer goods with direct rail access to Denver, Colo.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Oakland and Los Angeles, Calif.; and El Paso, Tex.

The new service will not only reduce truck traffic and GHG, but also “eliminate the need for containers to be trucked approximately 30 miles from the port to the nearest rail facility in Houston [Settegast Yard] for loading onto railcars, reducing highway congestion in the Houston area,” UP reported in its May 30 announcement.

Port Houston is a 25-mile-long complex of nearly 200 private and public industrial terminals along the 52-mile-long Houston Ship Channel. The eight public terminals are owned, operated, managed or leased by the Port of Houston Authority and include the general cargo terminals at the Turning Basin, Care, Jacintoport, Woodhouse, and the Barbours Cut and Bayport container terminals.

“Union Pacific is always looking for ways to save our customers time, while providing them more options and greater ease to our rail network,” said Kari Kirchhoefer, Senior Vice President–Premium, Marketing and Sales for the Class I railroad. “The new on-dock terminal service provides additional routing options to key metropolitan markets, while helping customers enhance their efficiency.”

“These added rail services from Union Pacific are an exciting step forward in the movement of cargo at Port Houston,” said Roger Guenther, Executive Director at the Port, which posted record volume in 2022.

BNSF earlier in May reported ramping up its own network of intermodal lane offerings with new service options from the Barbours Cut Container Terminal. The move, it said, is part of a “continued commitment to adjusting to our customers’ and the marketplace’s needs to enable growth and the efficient movement of shipments.”

(Port Houston Photograph)

Railway Age Senior Editor Carolina Worrell contributed to this report.

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