Freight trains could help decongest the Port of Long Beach

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With shipping delays and cargo still piling up at Los Angeles County ports, officials are starting to use freight trains to ease the problem.

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With shipping delays and cargo still piling up at Los Angeles County ports, officials are starting to use freight trains to ease the problem.

The Port of Long Beach, the Utah Inland Port Authority and the Union Pacific Railroad announced a new partnership aimed at rapidly transporting cargo from terminals in Long Beach to Salt Lake City for onward distribution in the western states.

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“It’s the only thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in this business for almost 15 years,” said Jack Days, director of the Utah Inland Port Authority.

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The authority is partnering with Union Pacific to use freight trains to reduce the unprecedented backlog at the Port of Long Beach and deliver goods to those waiting.

“Working closely with them, trying to shut down the system and really, make a relief valve,” Hedge said.

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Cargo can often be removed one container at a time at the Port of Long Beach and placed on trucks for delivery throughout the Western States. But Union Pacific says there may be a more efficient way.

A freight train can clear many more containers than a truck, which can help open up more space at an extremely congested port, explained Kristen South, senior director of corporate communications for Union Pacific Railroad.

They don’t have to stop at the port and put their payload on the trucks. They can go directly by train,” said South.

Union Pacific is encouraging the removal of multiple containers at once from Long Beach via freight train. The containers will be shipped to the Union Pacific Intermodal Facility in Salt Lake City. From there the goods will be sent to its final destination via rail or truck.

“Inside these boxes are anything and everything you can imagine, from TVs to washing machines to clothes to cell phones,” South said.

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“So it’s really about creating an alternative way to market things so that the flow of the whole system is better and easier and things get to us quicker,” Hedge said.

Since the partnership was announced last week, Union Pacific says they have received a lot of interest from Long Beach shipping companies. It’s too early to know how much merchandise will be redirected to Salt Lake, but the company says the possibilities are endless.

“It’s a solution. It’s not a solution, but it’s a solution to part of the problem,” Hedge said.

As of this week, Long Beach officials can now fine the companies that are responsible for the containers. The standoff in Southern California is partly due to a lack of truck drivers to pick up goods.


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