The upward trend in cargo volumes at the Port of Virginia continued as the number of TEUs handled in April grew 5.7 percent when compared with the same month last year.
In April, the port handled 179,370 TEUs, an increase of 9,726 units compared with April 2012. Export TEUs tallied 96,261 and import TEUs were 83,109, an increase of 6.1 and 5.3 percent, respectively.
Year-to-date TEU volume is up 6.1 percent, an increase of almost 40,000 TEUs. Rail containers in April increased 16.4 percent compared with April 2012 and for the year rail is more than 14 percent ahead of last year's pace, according to the Virginia Port Authority.
The Port of Virginia took longer than some ports to rebound from the global recession, which caused container volumes to drop 17 percent to 1.75 million TEUs in 2009, but is now outpacing many of its rivals. Last year, the Port of Virginia grew faster than any other container port on the East Coast.
In the past three years, CSX has beefed up its connections to Hampton Roads terminals and Norfolk Southern cleared a double-stack intermodal route from the port to Columbus, Ohio, called the Heartland Corridor, to serve the Midwest market. CSX is expected to complete by 2015 its National Gateway project to modify tunnels, bridges and tracks for double-stack service on its network. Last year, several container lines made service changes to use larger vessels for "first-in" or "last-out" port calls on the East Coast, which shippers prefer.
April was the sixth consecutive month of double-digit intermodal rail growth at the Port of Virginia. Two weeks ago, 52 percent of the lifts at the Norfolk International Terminal were onto rail cars rather than truck chassis, Thomas Capozzi, vice president global sales and customer service for Virginia International Terminals, said at the Virginia Maritime Association's annual conference in Norfolk last Thursday.
VIT is the not-for-profit state company that operates the terminals at the Port of Virginia.
In 2012, the Port of Virginia recorded its second best year for container volumes with 2.1 million TEUs, an increase of 9.8 percent from the previous year. The first four months this year represent the second best start to a calendar year, with TEUs just 10,518 units short of the 697,562 mark set in 2008. - Eric Kulisch