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Savannah eyes rail to stay ahead

Savannah ended its fiscal year with a 7.3% increase in total container volume and a 16.6% increase in rail containers.

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Savannah handled 4.5M TEU in FY 2019.
Savannah handled 4.5M TEU in FY 2019.

The Port of Savannah has reported a total container throughput of 4.5M TEU for its fiscal year ending June 30, an increase of more than 305,000 TEU or 7.3%.


"Our ports are firing on all cylinders," said Governor Brian Kemp. "This success is a testament to the men and women who work throughout our entire supply chain and make a difference for Georgia and the nation every day. Because of their commitment, our factories, farms and logistics providers are creating opportunity and prosperity in every corner of our state.”


The outlook for the US container port market for the next year is, however, much less optimistic. Drewry has just released a report where it forecasts global container port demand will increase by 4.4% per annum on average for the next five years. Drewry’s regional forecast for north America is for 3.6% growth over the same period.


The GPA is planning to do better. It has enjoyed several years of growth above the market averages and expects to continue to increase its market share. Rail is a key factor in that plan. “For the first time ever, GPA handled more than half a million container lifts to rail, growing that number by more than 72,000, or 16.6%. The 506,707 intermodal boxes constituted more than 20% of total containers, another record,” the GPA stated.


The GPA’s new Mason Mega Rail project is now 40% complete, and the port said it will be able to handle its planned capacity of 1 million containers per year by 2021. "The Authority’s investment in the Mason Mega Rail project is coming just in time for our capacity to stay ahead of demand, ensuring the free flow of intermodal cargo," said Will McKnight, GPA’s Board Chairman. "The first phase of the project will be complete this year, cutting rail transit time to Midwestern markets by 24 hours."


"Our team on the terminal - GPA employees, the International Longshoremen’s Association, and our two Class 1 rail providers, CSX and Norfolk Southern - are moving more freight faster and more efficiently than ever before in our history," said Griff Lynch, GPA’s Executive Director. "Rail cargo is expanding at twice the rate of our overall container trade, reducing congestion on our highways and increasing Georgia’s reach to a mid-American arc of cities, including Chicago, St. Louis and Columbus, Ohio."


In the auto sector, GPA handled 613,680 autos and machinery units (+4%) at its Colonel’s Island Terminal at the Port of Brunswick, GPA’s main port for the import-export of cars, trucks and tractors. Ocean Terminal in Savannah added another 35,884 vehicles for a total of nearly 650,000 units moved through Georgia’s ports.


In the bulk sector, at East River Terminal in Brunswick, terminal operator Logistec moved 1.2 million tons of bulk cargo in FY2019, an increase of 203,000 tons, or 20%.


The GPA continues to invest in growing its container capacity, with its Board approving spending US$12.4M to construct four new container rows that will increase annual capacity by approximately 400,000 TEU at the Garden City Terminal. The Board also approved a US$1.7M expansion to the auto area at Colonel’s Island Terminal in Brunswick that will add 600 processing spaces on four additional acres to the 662-acre facility.

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