Friday, June 2, 2017

More Rail for Oakland

By Karen Robes Meeks

At a meeting with railroad stakeholders last week, Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle made his case for more rail business.

Lytle attended the North American Rail Shippers Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco, California, where the port chief not only talked about the environmental advantages of reducing truck pollution through rail use, but also spoke of the potential growth in its rail business and the port’s recent efforts to raise its rail game.

Some of the projects mentioned includes the completion in late 2016 of a $100 million rail storage yard with 41,000 feet of tracks in proximity of Oakland marine terminals, an ideal location for export shippers.Lytle painted a picture of 100-car grain trains arriving in Oakland, where cargo would be transferred to ocean containers.

Then he mentioned the Cool Port Oakland, a 300,000-square-foot refrigerated facility slated to open in mid-2018.

The warehouse, which will be able to accommodate 36 refrigerated rail cars at once, will become the turning point for the Midwest beef, pork and chicken exports to Asia as the transfer of refrigerated meat from rail cars into cold shipping containers, - will take place in this closed environment.

In addition, city-owned property that used to be part of the Oakland Army Base has the potential to become a port rail yard.

“We have two outstanding partners at the Port in the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads,” Lytle said. “And everyone in Oakland would like to see more cargo move in and out of the city on the rails than over the road.”