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            december 10, 2019

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Port of NY-NJ accelerates scanning of rail freight containers


Maher Terminals in the port of New York and New Jersey has reduced ship-to-vessel time "significantly", after redesigning the way that import cargo to be transported by rail is scanned for radioactivity.
Under the new system, introduced by the terminal in July in cooperation with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a straddle carrier carrying the containers passes through two stacks of containers on which a radiation portal monitor (RPM) is mounted. The RPM scans the cargo as it passes through, without stopping, on its way from the ship to the rail terminal.
The previous system required the terminal to line up containers on the ground - sometimes 20 or 30 at once - and then scan them with an RPM mounted on a truck, which was far slower, reported IHS Media.
"The new system speeds up the process," as well as reducing the amount of terminal space needed to scan containers, said Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's intermodal rail development manager Cory Wyatt. "It has significantly reduced the time from the vessel to the rail, as far as dwell time. It's really a game changer as far as getting boxes on to the rails."
Port officials said Maher Terminal is the first terminal on the east coast to use the new system, which was developed by the Northwest Seaport Alliance. The system has cut 12 to 18 hours from the time needed to scan a container, according to Northwest Seaport Alliance's director of intermodal business development Mike Reilly.
Handling 2,000 containers a day at Maher Terminals, the system enables CBP to "detect and interdict contraband while facilitating the flow of commerce," a statement from CBP said, adding that it has "provided cost savings to the trade community, facilitated increased cargo processing, and provided operational efficiencies for both CBP and maritime and railroad partners."
Ports director Sam Ruda said the new system was one of several steps the port has taken to improve fluidity as it prepares to host larger vessels and secure more discretionary cargo, especially bound for the Midwest.
The port is also working with CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway to improve the flow of rail cars back into the port. Port officials say imports going by rail outnumber exports coming into the port three-to-one, resulting in a shortfall of empty rail cars for import containers. "We really think that we can expand our intermodal reach, probably really reach into the grain and agriculture belt," Mr Ruda said.
Through August 2019, the number of containers moved in and out of New York-New Jersey by rail grew by 4.3 per cent to 445,414 containers over the same eight-month period in 2018, according to port authority figures. The port aims to raise the annual volume of cargo that departs or arrives by rail from 640,000 containers in 2018 to 900,000 within five years.

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