By Lisa Baertlein
LOS ANGELES – Union Pacific Corp – one of two major railroads that haul cargo inland from the backed-up Los Angeles and Long Beach seaports – handled just a few dozen more containers after switching its nearby cargo terminal to 24/7 operations, Chief Executive Lance Fritz said on Thursday.
The railroad’s Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) last week added roughly 20 hours in the early mornings on Sunday and Monday to take the facility to round-the-clock operation. The move supported the Biden Administration’s plan to ease snarls at the Southern California ports that process roughly 40% of the container cargo that enters the country.
But so far, it hasn’t made a big dent.
“We’ve seen four dozen incremental domestic intermodal loads come through,” Fritz said in a Zoom interview. “It helps somewhere, and it will stay open 24/7 if that’s what it needs.”
Union Pacific executives and other logistics experts say that a shortage of available warehouse space and port and long-haul truckers are stymieing efforts to keep up with the surge in cargo to the United States – where the world’s most avid consumers have been buying more goods than ever due to pandemic-related curbs on travel and entertainment.
Union Pacific on Thursday reported a 6% decline in third-quarter volume for its intermodal business, which handles freight that moves by two or more modes of transportation – sea, rail or truck. Fritz told analysts that drop was due to shortage of port truckers to support the operations.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; editing by Jonathan Oatis)