The Port of Savannah has partnered with the St Louis Regional Freightway to create a new connection between the St Louis region and a new US$220m rail terminal as part of the port’s US$3bn investment.
The investment is a response to the port’s recent growth as, in 2017, it recorded a throughput of 4.3m teu and through the US$3bn investment it hopes to increase containerised cargo capacity from 5m to 8m teu by 2028.
To help boost this the rail terminal will double terminal rail lift capacity to approximately 1m containers per year and is expected to be the largest on-terminal rail facility in North America by 2020.
It will enable rail providers CSX and Norfolk Southern to deliver faster, more frequent service to Midwest Markets – which includes St. Louis – where both companies have established intermodal yards.
Mary Lamie, executive director of the St Louis Regional Freightway, said: “I cannot overstate the potential of this new partnership and the opportunities it can create to develop stronger links between our region’s world-class freight capabilities and national and global supply chains.”
John Trent, senior director of strategic operations and safety at the Georgia Ports Authority, which owns and operates the Port of Savannah, said that it would be an attractive alternative to shipping by rail from the West Coast to St Louis.
Trent said: “We offer a premium, lower cost option and, in addition, we provide that consistency. We believe we have a viable solution to not only support existing business in the St Louis region, but also to grow business in the St Louis region.”
The growing port has identified the St Louis region as a key import/export market to which containers can be consistently distributed at a lower cost for shippers – recent research suggests US$300-400 less for each container moved.
The region is the third largest rail hub strategically located in the centre of the US with four intermodal yards all having close proximity to all modes of transportation.
It is close to the nation’s third largest inland port as well as four interstates connected by the Interstate 270 outer-loop.
Matt Freix, regional vice president for DNJ Intermodal Services, said: “Competition for intermodal containerised shipping primarily focuses on three things: low cost, efficient transportation, freight volumes and shorter transit times.”
Freix believes that St Louis is able to deliver in each of these categories and that DNJ Intermodal Services’ customers take advantage of the region’s low rail congestion and quick truck turnaround times.
He added: “It’s an incredible alternative to Chicago’s rail congestion and ongoing truck capacity shortage. And it’s also a great alternative to Memphis, where there are issues with getting enough chassis on the trucking side.”
St Louis is also 350 miles closer to the Port of Savannah than any other major East Coast gateway which makes it an ideal partner for the port.