“We have two outstanding partners at the port in the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroads,” Lytle told the annual meeting of the North American Rail Shippers Association. “And everyone in Oakland would like to see more cargo move in and out of the city on the rails than over the road.”
Both of these Class I railroads operate at far less than capacity in Oakland because the port’s primary market for containerized cargo is Northern California, which is more efficiently served by trucks than trains.
However, Lytle said Oakland’s rail profile could improve soon due to recent investments at the port.
Last year, the port completed a $100 million rail storage yard with 41,000 feet of tracks. The rail yard was constructed using California state Trade Corridor Improvement Funds (TCIF) and federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants.
Looking ahead, a 300,000-square-foot refrigerated facility dubbed Cool Port Oakland will open in mid-2018, Lytle said. The facility will be a pivot point for exporting beef, pork and chicken to Asia, with shipments likely originating from the Midwest coming to the port in rail cars that will then go into containers at Cool Port Oakland.
The Port of Oakland is called by 28 liner services, all of which deploy fully cellular containerships, according to ocean carrier schedule and capacity database BlueWater Reporting's Port Dashboard tool. Of these loops, the OCEAN Alliance’s dedicated Asia-West Coast North America PRX/SC1 loop has the highest average vessel capacity at 14,171 TEUs.