Norfolk – A new double-stack rail service that expands The Port of Virginia's reach into central North Carolina, an important and growing Southeastern market, will be inaugurated in mid-October, port and railroad officials confirmed recently.
"Many North Carolina-based cargo owners have expressed a very genuine interest in this service because of the economics of bringing their cargo through our port and into this market by rail," said Jerry A. Bridges, the VPA's executive director. "This service diversifies and enhances our reach into what we see as an area with a lot of potential."
The six-day-a-week service is owned and operated by Norfolk Southern. It will serve Greensboro with a focus on the textile, furniture, retail, chemical and agriculture industries; the city is considered a load center for imports and exports of those cargoes in central North Carolina. The service is already supported by two ocean carriers that have committed to its use and it is generating interest from other carriers as well.
Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point compose central North Carolina's Piedmont Triad and in that region there are an estimated 1.6 million people. Greensboro is the largest of the three cities; interstates 40 and 85 intersect just outside the city.
Bridges said he sees an opportunity for Virginia to test the "big-ship, big-reach theory." As the frequency of big vessels calling Virginia increases, the amount of cargo moving across the port will grow as well and much of that cargo, Bridges said, will be heading to new markets.
"The rail extends from Greensboro to Charlotte on down to Atlanta and over to Memphis so the infrastructure to reach into the South is there; this service is a good start and we're going to capitalize on it," he said.
Other advantages of this service include:
Provides cargo owners an alternative to the truck market out of ports in South Carolina and Georgia;
Seven-day-a-week container availability at the Greensboro rail ramp with 24-hour-a-day availability Monday through Friday as well as weekend limited hours of service;
Faster truck turn times that will help maximize truckers' driving time under Hours-of-Service rules;
The possibility of multiple truck turns per day at the ramp because of its proximity to cargo owners versus longer dray moves to, or fewer turns at a port;
The container yard adjacent to the ramp offers the ability to terminate and dispatch equipment, thereby facilitating one-way moves, matchbacks and empty container storage;
Neutral chassis pool (HRCP2) on-site;
A 63 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared with trucks; and
The lowest environmental impact when compared to moving cargo via other major Southeast ports.
Train schedules are available at: https://www.nscorp.com/nscintermodal/Intermodal/System_Info/Terminals/norfolk.html