Rail Congestion Impacts on Puget Sound Intermodal Port Operations
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This work determined if the apparent rail congestion problem actually existed to the extreme it was impacting intermodal operations at Puget Sound ports. Observations were made of rail traffic in the Puget Sound basin on all four rail routes and for both railroads, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific. The numbers of passing trains were recorded to examine congestion on each route. The numbers of inland point intermodal trains leaving the region were recorded to determine the average numbers of containers per train. Multiple container identity numbers were recorded to examine their time on dock as a possible indicator of congestion impact. Using observed values and multiple published sources for the route capacities it was found only the Everett to Spokane route was operating at capacity. Two of the other three routes have room for capacity growth; the South line into Oregon and the East line from Auburn to Pasco. The North line into Canada is close to its capacity and is feeling pressure from increasing numbers of energy trains. The generated time on dock values only show there is a range of times with 28 hours and 25 minutes being the average time on dock for all samples. Only slight intermittent congestion is being seen on one route. The time on dock values are inconclusive since no baseline exists for this information. Additional study would be needed to refine conclusions.
- Marine affairs