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June 09, 2014

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26 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE JUNE 9.2014 PACIFIC NORTHWEST GATEWAY SPECIAL REPORT The Port of Tacoma offers you a broad choice of carriers, efficient transload capabilities, state-of-the-art facilities and plenty of room for growth. And our dedication to meeting your business needs means you have a trustworthy partner today, tomorrow and into the future. You need a global trade partner you can trust as much as your friends. For more information, please contact: Larry Kvidera Commercial Group 253-428-8650 FRIENDS HELP YOU MOVE. REAL FRIENDS HELP YOU DO BUSINESS. expedited containers and trailers from Port- land to Chicago now takes about 135 hours, according to BNSF service goals. The apparent increase in BNSF transit times between the Pacific Northwest and Chicago is the latest sign that a backlog of carload freight, caused by severe winter weather and an uptick in volume, much of it tied to the domestic energy boom, is impact- ing intermodal service. During a recent U.S. Surface Transportation Board hearing on deteriorating rail service, BNSF Chief Mar- keting Officer Steve Bobb said the railroad within the first quarter twice moved 200,000 intermodal shipments in a week, a high not reached since 2007. BNSF declined to comment on the his- torical average transit times for both routes, saying it was competitive information. The railroad, however, said it has created new schedules for intermodal service in the Pacific Northwest, following higher traf - fic on the lanes and expectations of more growth to come. "We are managing for the growth we are experiencing now, and we are investing to improve service for all of our customers and manage our network to provide service that meets our customers' expectations," said BNSF spokeswoman Amy Casas, pointing to the railroad's $5 billion capital invest - ment plan for this year. About $1 billion of that will go toward improving and expand- ing capacity along the Northern Corridor, a chokepoint for export agricultural traffic and shipments tied to domestic energy pro- duction in the Bakken formation. UP in early May began a domestic intermodal service between Portland and Chicago that takes 77 hours on the east - bound leg and 81 hours coming back, UP spokesman Aaron Hunt said. The service, which will include trains moving west - bound six days a week and trains hauling goods eastbound five days a week, is in addition to another UP intermodal service between Portland and Chicago. Although UP service also has slipped in recent months, the railroad doesn't have a network chokepoint like BNSF does because UP is less tied to the domestic energy sec- tor. BNSF also has seen a sharper uptick in freight growth since the recession, with the railroad saying it handled about half of the U.S. rail industry's total growth since the recession. The Northwest-Midwest lane was the fifth-biggest intermodal lane in the first quarter, accounting for about 9 percent of traffic of the top seven lanes. Intermodal traffic from the Northwest to the Midwest in the first quarter fell 16.5 percent year- over-year to nearly 126,000 units, while volume in the opposite direction dropped 6.3 percent in the same period to about 99,000 units, according to Intermodal Asso- ciation of North America statistics. UP intermodal volume expanded 8 per- cent in the first three months of the year, while BNSF volume rose just 1 percent. JOC Contact Mark Szakonyi at and follow him on Twitter: @szakonyi_joc.

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