Gilbert B Norman wrote:Zees eez great propaganda; Komarades--
Nevertheless, a convenient overview of Lazaro Cardenas.
To continue with other thoughts regarding rail, on one hand KCSdeM need not be concerned with other rail "competition" - something that both BNSF and UP must think about at LA/LB - namely from each other. But then, I'm not sure to what extent maritime operators (defer to you Mr. Cowford) are concerned about having only one railroad available.
Finally, admittedly off topic, but maybe analogous to the development of Lazaro Cardenas, I have long held that the Port of Seattle would handle more Asian ex/im traffic if two competitive rail routings were available (yes; I know the UP makes rates, but is any of their routes out of Seattle exactly what one would call "competitive" for an East-West line haul; BNSF only "sort of" for an N-S through Bieber); just one more argument (it's off-topic here) that MILW Lines West should have remained in place; albeit not likely operated by the MILW or successor.
IMHO Lazaro Cardenas will be the big West Coast Port for Mexico Traffic, which is growing very nicely.
As for why Seattle struggles behind LA/LB;
1) LOSSAN (Los Angeles/San Diego) is the second largest conurbation in the US by population, so a significant amount of traffic is naturally destined for the area.
2) The largest retailers (Walmart, Target, Best Buy, etc.) have Import Distribution warehouses in the Greater LA Basin where Import containers are stripped out, sorted, and restuffed into Domestic containers for their Regional Distribution Centers. Arriving Maritime containers will typically have either just one product or a limited amount of different products from a single manufacturer. The Departing Domestic containers will have a variety of products sorted and restuffed from many Maritime Boxes.
3) Domestic 53' Containers have ~40% more cubic capacity than Hy-Cube Maritime 40' containers. 45' Maritime containers are expensive. Most products shipped by Mass market Retailers Cube out.
4) Containerships are only making money when they are sailing, not when they are docked. This effect is amplified by the size of the ship. Therefor those Ports with cranes capable of the fastest unloading and reloading will get preference, and the Shipping lines will limit the number of Ports served to as few as possible. Ideally just one port, but in practice two.
5) The railroads charge the Steamship lines a per container fee for any traffic lanes where inbound and outbound traffic is out of balance by more than a very small percentage.
This only applies to traffic managed by the Steamship lines and moving in Maritime containers.