Trains.com
You have 7 views remaining.

Home / Train Basics / Ask Trains / Ask Trains: Why do you see empty container trains headed away from East Coast ports?

Ask Trains: Why do you see empty container trains headed away from East Coast ports?

By | October 17, 2019

Published: Oct. 17, 2019

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories and more.

Q: One reader recently asked why there were so many empty container trains heading away from the East Coast on railroads? Could it be the West Coast receives more loads and container trains need to be repositioned? — A Trains reader

A: That East/Eest balances is one source of empty moves, but there are other potential causes.
Shippers tend to favor certain ports for export shipments based on ship rotations. They prefer to use the last port of call for exports to minimize the time consumed on the water. So, for instance, a ship may call at New York first then head for Norfolk, Va., before heading overseas.

There are also issues where volumes fluctuate with ship schedules so railcars can pile up near the ports awaiting their next assignment and need to be moved either to free up track space or for use elsewhere.

There are also differences between international (40-foot) and domestic (53-foot) container traffic patterns. Domestic loads tend to move eastbound from the Midwest to the East, while more loaded international containers move West because imports over the East Coast exceeds exports. — Larry Gross, intermodal shipping consultant

You must login to submit a comment