Carolina Rail and Ports Update

If you’re interested in the logistics industry within North Carolina, there is certainly a lot to take in.

It seems like every few weeks there is some new piece of big news, whether it’s the announcement of a new infrastructure initiative or an important update regarding an existing one. While this is all undoubtedly great news, it can be difficult to stay current with it all.

So, in this blog post, we’ll get you up to speed on some of the most recent NC logistics news – particularly the news involving Carolina rail and ports.

Carolina Rail

We’re now only one year away from construction beginning on the CSX Intermodal Terminal in Rocky Mount, NC and only two years away from the opening of that Terminal.  Until then, however, we’re happy to report that all things rail-related are continuing to grow in North Carolina.

A huge Wilmington rail realignment plan – originally proposed in 2015 and already being called one of the most ambitious projects in that city’s history – appears to have made it through a major hurdle last month.  An appointed task force reviewed the current proposal and found “no fatal flaw” within.

The plan centers around the construction of a “new rail line – and a new rail bridge across the Cape Fear River – that would connect the Port directly to CSX’s rail line in Navassa, the Davis rail yard.”  Proponents of the new line say that it will reduce local congestion and allow companies to significantly speed up rail transport times to and from the Port.

In other rail news, just last week it was reported that a short-line rail operator, Progressive Rail, has taken over the 11.6-mile Piedmont and Northern Railway that runs between Gastonia and Mount Holly, with an additional 1.5-mile dead-end spur into downtown Belmont. The story in the Gaston Gazette reported that “More than $7 million in state and local tax dollars were spent to restore and then reopen the track in 2012.”

This is promising news because Progressive plans to use that stretch of rail primarily for freight operations and intends to market the railway aggressively.

Carolina Ports

In late June, a whopper of a statistic was revealed: North Carolina Ports (NCP) has already doubled its container business for calendar year 2017 over 2016. Unprecedented growth is also expected for the next fiscal year.

A big reason for this growth is the activation of new container services at the Port of Wilmington.

In our May 25 post on North Carolina ports, we told you about new partnerships between NCP and the major container company alliances, as well as large shippers like ZIM Integrated Shipping, Ltd. – the largest cargo shipping company in Israel.  Well, these new partnerships are coming to fruition.

According to NCP, “ZIM recently added the Port of Wilmington to its Z7S (ZIM Seven Star Express) all-water Asia-U.S. East Coast service rotation. This weekly service provides exceptional access to major markets in South China, Southeast Asia and India Subcontinent. Known for its speed to market, the Z7S service is the only container service calling the Port of Wilmington using the Suez Canal.”  This Z7S service rotation features 11 ships, averaging 5,000 TEUs in size.

The new ZIM service starts just weeks after the commencement of other new container services at the Port of Wilmington from Maersk Lines and MSC, from THE Alliance, and from StreamLines.

To accommodate this growth, NCP has ordered two new post-Panamax container cranes and will pour over $150 million into its infrastructure in the next few years.

Kudos to State of NC for Logistics Infrastructure Investments

If you haven’t paid attention to Carolina rail, ports, or any other part of the state’s logistics infrastructure in a while, now is a good time to do so.

No matter how big your logistics needs are, North Carolina has the capabilities to handle them.

An ideal central location along the Eastern Seaboard, relatively low space and labor costs, and a state government committed to building a strong logistics infrastructure all combine makes North Carolina an ideal site for your logistics operations.   

We couldn’t make that kind of statement even 10 years ago, but we can today thanks to the “putting our money where our mouth is” commitment that this state’s logistics industry has delivered on.


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