Industrial X Missouri

St. Louis, Savannah form key rail partnership

St. Louis, Savannah form key rail partnership,ph01
The Garden City Terminal in Savannah, Georgia. (Georgia Ports Authority/Stephen B. Morton)

The St. Louis Regional Freightway and the Port of Savannah in Savannah, Georgia, are forging a partnership to create a new connection between the St. Louis, Missouri, region and the largest single-terminal container facility in the western hemisphere.

In response to record movement of 4.3 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) in fiscal year 2017, the Port of Savannah is investing $3 billion to increase its containerized cargo capacity from 5 to 8 million TEUs by 2028. The investment will accelerate the efforts of the nation’s third busiest container gateway to better support retailers and manufacturers and distribute more goods to and from the interior of the United States. The growing Port of Savannah has identified the St. Louis region as a key import/export market to which containers can consistently be distributed at a lower cost for shippers.

An important component of the Port of Savannah’s development plan is a new $220 million rail terminal that will be the largest on-terminal rail facility in North America by 2020. The rail expansion will improve efficiency and double terminal rail lift capacity to about 1 million containers per year.

The unit train capacity on terminal will build density into the system, and enable rail providers CSX and Norfolk Southern to deliver faster, more frequent rail service to Midwest markets, including St. Louis, where both rail companies already have established intermodal yards. Both are Class 1 railroads and two of the seven largest rail companies in the nation, providing a direct link between the Port of Savannah on the East Coast and the St. Louis region in America’s heartland.

John Trent, Senior Director of Strategic Operations and Safety at the Georgia Ports Authority, said the new rail service would be an attractive alternative to shipping by rail from the West Coast to St. Louis. He cited recently completed research that reveals the cost to shippers using the new service would be $300 to $400 less for each container moved, and the total time in transit would be comparable.

“I cannot overstate the potential of this new partnership and the opportunities it can create to develop stronger links between our region’s world-class freight capabilities and national and global supply chains,” said Mary Lamie, executive director of the St. Louis Regional Freightway.