Skip to main content

Port Jersey Rail Complex Could Prove a Game Changer for Metro Area Cargo Handling

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said this week’s opening of the final stage of a rail facility in the port’s network will advance its five-year strategic goal of handling more than 900,000 rail lifts a year. It will also expand rail capacity for cargo destined for outside of the region.

This is the equivalent of 1.5 million fewer truck trips on local highways, reducing congestion and emissions and making shipping in the region more efficiently and less costly, according to the Port Authority.

The new Port Jersey rail facility, part of what is known as the ExpressRail system, concludes a $600 million Port Authority capital investment program dating back to the 1990s that established direct rail access to on-dock and near-dock intermodal rail services at all of its major marine terminals. The facilities are designed to reduce the port’s historical heavy reliance on trucks to transport cargo that arrives at the port by ship to its final destination.

Trucks still account for moving 85 percent of the containers on and off port terminals, but the opening of the Port Jersey rail facility will allow ease future burden.

“Given the highly competitive nature of the port business, we need to assure shippers that we have best-in-class infrastructure and service in place to meet growing demand and to allow cargo to be moved in a smooth, efficient, timely and environmentally friendly manner to wherever its final destination may be,” Port Authority chairman Kevin O’Toole said. “With more than 75 percent of the vessels arriving in the Port of New York and New Jersey as their first call, an efficient rail cargo system can deliver cargo to an inland destination before the vessel reaches the next U.S. port, making our port a far more attractive destination for shippers. This project, and others we are doing throughout the Port of New York and New Jersey, will ensure that we maintain our competitive edge and continue our longstanding designation as the leading port of choice on the East Coast.”

Related Stories

Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton said the New York-New Jersey port not only serves goods destined for the 27 million consumers in the metropolitan area, but also millions of others in markets within 250 miles.

“Expanding our ability to move cargo by rail is a smart business decision that ensures that we can continue to move cargo expeditiously through the port and do it quickly, cost efficiently and in an environmentally friendly, sustainable way,” Cotton said.

The initial phase of the ExpressRail Port Jersey intermodal facility that began service on Monday consists of four tracks designed for active loading and unloading of cargo from the GCT Bayonne terminal that connect to a lead track to and from the main freight rail network. It also consists of two high-efficiency, all-electric, regenerative powered, widespan rail-mounted gantry cranes featuring LED lighting to load and unload containers in the intermodal yard.

The intermodal facility will help support the port’s cargo growth and have an annual capacity of 250,000 container lifts. It will connect the GCT Bayonne terminal to CSX and Norfolk Southern’ s extensive rail network, allowing shippers to efficiently and seamlessly transfer their cargo from ship to rail, and reach key inland markets in the Midwest, New England and elsewhere in a timely manner.

Over time, emission reductions resulting from the switch from truck to rail transport is expected to total 415 tons of nitrogen oxide and 108 tons of particulate matter, or the equivalent of taking more than 45,300 cars off the road. It also will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 18,300 tons annually.

The cost of the GCT Bayonne ExpressRail Port Jersey facility is $149 million. The Port Authority said this will be recoverable over time through funds collected via the cargo facility charge, a fee assessed on cargo shipped through the Port of New York and New Jersey to cover the costs of critical road, rail and security infrastructure projects.