CN expands Gulf of Mexico gateway focus

Supply chain collaboration to help capitalize on Panama Canal Expansion.

Canadian National Railway Company (CN) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Port of New Orleans that will see the parties develop greater supply chain efficiencies aimed at drawing more container traffic over the port to North American markets.

“We and our Port of New Orleans gateway partners have a mutual interest in ensuring the competitive and efficient movement of container goods through the gateway and growing its market share,” said JJ Ruest, CN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “This MOU will help us advance that agenda.”

The Port of New Orleans has an intermodal rail terminal adjacent to its Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal providing on-dock access for all rail shipments. The new Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal is now under construction. The $25-million project, when completed in the first quarter of 2016, will result in a modern, efficient intermodal container transfer terminal located within the container yard, offering on-dock access and improving CN's link to the terminal and helping grow its container volumes.

"We are pleased to build upon our long-standing relationship with CN. This MOU reflects a genuine interest in mutually developing better service that will help us capture greater market share and optimize throughput, with the ultimate goal of providing the best service possible to our customers," said Gary LaGrange, president and chief executive officer of the Port of New Orleans.

The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPBR), a switching railroad with the primary mission of serving the Port of New Orleans and local industries, also signed the CN-Port of New Orleans MOU.

CN's Port of New Orleans MOU follows the recent signing of a similar agreement with the Alabama State Port Authority, which owns the public terminals at the Port of Mobile, and reflects the railway's continued focus on developing highly efficient Gulf of Mexico gateways for international trade.

A key signatory to CN's MOU for the Port of Mobile gateway was APM Terminals Mobile, LLC. APM Terminals operates a 95-acre, deep-sea container terminal at the Port of Mobile. The state-of-the-art container terminal is adjacent to the intermodal rail facility now under construction. The ASPA is building the $32-million rail terminal that will permit the direct and fluid transfer of containers between vessel and rail car in the spring of 2016.

"The expanded Panama Canal is expected to offer greater freight traffic opportunities to the ports of New Orleans and Mobile,” Ruest said. “Our plan to implement level-of-service agreements at these two ports and raise their involvement in rail transportation should help them take advantage of rising container trade with Asia and South America."

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