On-Dock Rail Lifts, Port of New York, 1991-2016

On Dock Rail Lifts Port of New York 1991 2016

Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The promotion of rail transport has been a priority to improve the efficiency of the port, especially at Port Elizabeth and Port Newark, which are the main container terminals. Three ‘ExpressRail’ on-dick rail terminals were built; Port Newark, Elizabeth and Staten Island. The first, a 35-acre (14 ha) ExpressRail terminal, built by the intermodal freight operator Maher Terminals (Port Elizabeth), opened in 1991. It enables direct doublestaking ship-to-rail and rail-to-ship transshipment capabilities. To expand on-dock rail capacity a new terminal with further improved truck and rail access opened in 2003, implying that all the main container facilities now have direct access to on-dock rail facilities. On-dock operations were expanded in 2007 at the Howland Hook on Staten Island. In 2016, construction started for a new on-dock facility (ExpressRail Port Jersey) near the Global Container Terminal. Once this project completed in 2018, all the container terminal facilities at the Port of New York and New Jersey will be equipped with on-dock rail.

From 43,000 containers handled in 1992, volumes grew to above 500,000 lifts in 2016. It was expected that the rail’s share of intermodal movements would climb to 25-30 per cent of transshipped containers by 2010. However, as of 2012, this share was at 12.3%, implying that modal shift expectations have only attained half the goal. This lower than expected share is in part attributed to the main hinterland of the port of New York, which is dominantly within the metropolitan area and the adjacent states, all of which effectively serviced by trucking. Still, the number of on-dock rail lifts in relation to the total number of containers handled by the port of New York has been steadily increasing. This is indicative a growing market share as each container moved by rail replaces the equivalent of 1.5 truck moves.