Tag Archives: PortMiami

PortMiami joins big-ship era

PortMiami officially joined the Neopanamax era Saturday when the MOL Majesty — a vessel too big to fit through the original Panama Canal — became the first ship to arrive at the port after transiting the newly expanded canal.

To a soundtrack of Kool & The Gang’s Celebration and a water canon salute, the arrival of the Majesty was as much a celebration of Miami’s $1.3 billion in port improvements to accommodate bigger ships as it was a culmination of Panama’s nine-year locks project.

“It’s a wow day for Miami,” said PortMiami Director Juan Kuryla as super post-Panamax cranes plucking cargo from the Majesty loomed in the background. The Majesty, which transited the canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic on July 4, is part of the fleet of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, a Japanese company.

“That we have the mayor [Carlos Gimenez], the Panama Canal administrator, the chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, the president of Florida East Coast Railway and so many shipping line executives here speaks to the importance of the day and the importance of having 50-feet deep water,” Kuryla said.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article88674172.html#storylink=cpy

Rail helps PortMiami gain containerized cargo

On-dock intermodal rail helped PortMiami as it posted an increase of 15% in containerized cargo movements last fiscal year.

The port handled a total of 1,007,800 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, of cargo in the year that ended Sept. 30, as Asian trade rose with multiple weekly service through three of the world’s four major cargo alliances.

Having spent more than $1 billion in capital infrastructure, the seaport now offers super post-panamax gantry cranes that can service cargo up to 22 containers wide and up to nine containers above deck and up to 11 below.

Part of the investment, upwards of $50 million, was the on-dock intermodal rail service, featuring three tracks each 3,000 feet long for the Florida East Coast Railway connection to the port, which was restored in 2013 after years of inactivity when past port directors said rail service to the port was outmoded and unnecessary.

Commodities carried range from garments to waste paper to refrigerated cargo.

The railway “currently moves about 45,000 containers annually at PortMiami and has the available capacity to handle up to 225,000 boxes yearly,” Jim Hertwig, the railway’s president and CEO, said in a statement last month.

As of July 28, the rail service had transported 8,420 cargo container units northbound from the port and 10,257 southbound into the port. The rail service was also moving empty containers for major shipping lines.

“We found a niche in the market,” Robert Navarro, port director for the railway, told Miami Today last summer. “Not only do we move loads, we will move empty containers for the [shipping] lines – what they call repositioning.”

Shipping lines move their empty containers, or empties, from one port to another. The port’s rail service has taken containers as far as California.

The rail service was operating seven days a week except for major holidays, Mr. Navarro said.

Establishing on-dock intermodal rail service has opened new markets for both the port and the railway, allowing containers at Port Miami to be loaded directly onto waiting trains, with the railway delivering truck-like service via its Cocoa terminal in Brevard County to the north and FEC Highway Services, the railway’s trucking arm.

The railway and the port together offer two-day delivery within the Southeast and say they can reach 70% of the US population within four days.

“Today we are well positioned to support vessels capable of hauling more than 10,000 TEUs and will continue to promote multi-modal shipping and support global trade into and out of South Florida alongside our partners at PortMiami,” Mr. Hertwig said.

“More than 10% of the TEUs handled at PortMiami are now delivered to or depart from the docks via a [Florida East Coast Railways] train,” Mr. Hertwig said, “an amount that could reach 25% when the larger post-panamax vessels call at PortMiami.”

The port is now welcoming larger vessels, said Port Director Juan M. Kuryla, as the only major global trade hub south of Virginia capable of handling the larger post-panamax ships.

Mr. Navarro said he’s done business with all major shipping lines but would like to add more cargo volume.

The rail service can carry up to 240 40-foot-equivalent-units on its 9,000 feet of track. When a train leaves the port, it rolls straight across the PortMiami bridge, crosses Biscayne Boulevard, then goes west to the Hialeah Rail Yard, where it is connected to the national rail system.

Said Mr. Kuryla, “Growth of international trade and commerce at PortMiami is only getting stronger.”

What Will the Panama Canal Do For Florida East Coast Railway?

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The 48 mile-long international waterway known as the Panama Canal allows ships to pass between the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean, saving about 8,000 miles from a journey around the southern tip of South America. A project is underway to build new locks as well as wider and deeper channels that is expected to double the canal’s capacity. This will allow megaships to move through the Canal.

Though traffic continues to increase through the canal, many oil supertankers, huge container ships and aircraft carriers can not fit through the canal. There’s even a class of ships known as “Panamax,” those built to the maximum capacity of the Panama canal and its locks. the Panama Canal expansion project will allow ships double the size of current Panamax (“Post-Panamax”) to pass through the canal, dramatically increasing the amount of goods that can pass through the canal.

The expansion project is a little off target and will not be completed until April 2015. What does this expansion mean? The Panama Canal will then accommodate post-Panamax vessels that carry 12,600 containers, compared to today’s ships carrying 4,500 containers.

Shipping containers through the Canal on these larger ships could reduce costs by as much as $75 to $100 per container per voyage, which adds up quickly! When such ships are able to pass through the Panama Canal, business will consequently pick up along both the U.S. Eastern and Gulf coast ports because the ships can take an “all-water” route from Asia to the U.S. East or Gulf coast—bypassing West coast ports and the roads and railways now used to transport goods across the U.S. However, these ships require depths of up to 50 feet of water to navigate. As a result, port authorities along the U.S. Eastern seaboard and Gulf coast are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to dredge the bottoms of their bays and river bottoms to deepen harbors to accommodate the larger ships.

Progressive Railroading has been covering the East Coast ports plus the connecting railroads. As the $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion nears its 2015 completion to allow supersize, Post-Panamax cargo ships to pass through on their way to markets farther north, eastern U.S. ports and a number of railroads are gearing up for an anticipated increase in international intermodal traffic in the coming years. East and Gulf Coast port authorities are developing and deepening their harbors in preparation for the influx of giant ships, and eastern railroads are building or expanding on-dock rail facilities, building intermodal centers or advancing other plans to accommodate an expected increase in freight traffic.

Among railroads anticipating a bump in intermodal traffic after the bigger canal opens is Florida East Coast Railway L.L.C. (FEC), the only rail provider to south Florida’s ports. Based in Jacksonville, Fla., the 351-mile regional is working with PortMiami and Port Everglades to build on-dock rail facilities as part of their expansion programs, which FEC execs view as a big part of the railroad’s strategy to grow intermodal traffic. “By summer 2014, we’ll have the on-dock rail facility fully operational, which means that from PortMiami we can hit 70 percent of the American population in a matter of days,” says PortMiami Director Bill Johnson. “It will allow us to double stack containers directly to Jacksonville in under nine hours, and connect to Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) and CSX directly to the heartland of America.”

FEC is partnering with both Port Miami and Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) to build on-dock rail facilities to provide faster and more cost-effective service to intermodal customers. In addition, the Port of Miami is engaged in the FEC Rail Reconnection Project. The Project has four phases: (1) reconstruction of the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) Port Lead, (2) rehabilitation of the bascule bridge that connects Port Miami and FEC, (3) the construction of an on-port rail facility, and (4) modifications to FEC’s Rail Yard to accommodate the increase in intermodal traffic. The rail reconnection project is actually part of a larger infrastructure investment program taking place at Port Miami. The other two projects are the Miami Access Tunnel and the 50-foot dredge.