• PANAMAX - Effect Upon US Roads

  • For topics on Class I and II passenger and freight operations more general in nature and not specifically related to a specific railroad with its own forum.
For topics on Class I and II passenger and freight operations more general in nature and not specifically related to a specific railroad with its own forum.

Moderator: Jeff Smith

  by David Benton
http://maritime-connector.com/wiki/panamax/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The different Panama ships. I imagine it allows for a bigger cubic capacity for coal carriers , similar to the equation for container ships. How it effects the economics of coal,( and if any shipping line is prepared to invest in large coal ships) I don't know.
  by Gilbert B Norman
http://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/nyreg ... aters.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Fair Use:
...But Capt. Maksym Kononov, a merchant mariner from Ukraine, can expect considerably more fanfare when his ship, the CMA CGM T Roosevelt, with its crew of 27, arrives Thursday morning, assuming the weather allows. Harbor officials have been preparing for his ship’s arrival for years — dredging the harbor and raising the Bayonne Bridge by 64 feet — so that this ship, and others like it, can be accommodated.

A 1,200-foot-long behemoth that measures more than 157-feet wide, the T Roosevelt is being billed by port officials as the biggest cargo ship to ever call on an East Coast port. And it will be a tight fit. So tight, in fact, that port officials were initially a bit concerned
Reading this article makes me wonder how many of its containers will have any rail line haul to destination when compared with a West Coast docking and the resulting assured rail line hauls.
  by ExCon90
Very little, the way things look. It's been awhile since I was in that line of work, but the destination would have had to be in Ohio or west for rail to be competitive from New York. If it's west of Chicago and St. Louis it becomes a matter of relative transit time (versus West Coast) and (as always) freight rates. Either way, it doesn't leave much room for railroads east of Chicago to be in the picture. As to traffic destined New York, mini-landbridge via the West Coast would have to have a strong advantage in rates, transit time, or frequency (or all three) for the railroads to retain that traffic.
  by Gilbert B Norman
It appears that Google has "patched up the knothole" in the paywall, so absent being a Wall Street Journal subscriber, you may not be able to view this article;

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wsj.co ... 1507464000" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Even if towards the end of the article, I think this Fair Use quotation is most pertinent to those such as myself who consider railroad interests paramount:
The widened waterway could shift as much as 10% of Asian container imports to the East Coast from the West Coast by 2020, according to a 2015 study by the Boston Consulting Group and C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., a freight-forwarding company.

That doesn’t mean ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., the nation’s two biggest gateways, will shrink anytime soon. Western ports are deep enough and bridges high enough to allow behemoths moving more than 18,000 containers to cross along with crude supertankers—too big even for the new Panama Canal.


disclaimer: author holds long position UNP
  by Gilbert B Norman
As readers have likely gathered, I follow maritime industry affairs as I hold that they can impact those of the railroads.

I'm not certain how the reporting within this Wall Street Journal article will impact. One might hold that if it will cost more "to gas up the boats", they will prefer to call at the West Coast ports resulting in considerably more favorable line hauls for BNSF and UP. CSX and NS will also benefit in that traffic to East Coast ports is more vulnerable to diversion to highway.

On the other hand, the reduction in frequency of sailings will not help the maritime operators, although this could be the result of the stalemated China/US trade agreements:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-storm-is ... mail_share" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Fair Use:
It used to be that you could measure confidence in the container-shipping industry by the ever-increasing scale of the carriers’ vessels and the size of their ship orders.

These days, the hulking megaships that serve the world’s biggest trade routes look more than ever like monuments to brash corporate planning and projections built out of hopes rather than reality.

From slowing global trade to rising fuel prices to capacity increasingly out of step with demand, container-shipping operators are facing new challenges over the next two years, hurting prospects for a recovery after nearly a decade of moving in fits and starts toward stability..
  by JayBee
Something to consider, the IMO (International Maritime Organization), a UN Agency, will require all ships in International trade to burn Ultra Low Sulfur fuel effective 1/1/2020 or to use scrubbers, It is not known where all this ULS marine fuel will come from as refiners do not have the capacity and in many cases the technology to make this fuel. Most US refineries have the capability, but there already is a lot of demand from trucks and railroads for this fuel and most of this fuel is made from "Sour" (high-sulfur) heavy crude, with the sulfur winding up in the Marine fuel, which won't be an option next year. The only solution will for the refiners to turn the leftover high-sulfur liquid into asphalt.
  by John_Perkowski
From Kansas City,

I’ve seen more container trains in recent months, so i do not think it’s impacting US trade very much.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Encouraging to learn, Colonel.

But I continue to hold concern for the People of the State of Florida, who have parted with Whopper Taxybuks to develop the Port of Miami into a Neo-PANAMAX maritime port. I've been "going down" for the last seven years during January (Cleveland Orchestra), and paying extra at Marriott Miami Biscayne Bay for a Port view room. Unfortunately, while plenty of Love Tubs, all too many cranes are pointing "Skyward".
  by ExCon90
That's a chronic problem for any port. The choice is "if you build it they may come--if you don't build it they can't come," but there's no assurance that they will come. Has to be causing sleepless-nights in lots of places.
  by ExCon90
Pretty much, yes, at least on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts--and there's no consensus about which ones are the least needed. On the Pacific Coast of over 1000 miles, the only suitable places for ports seem to be Los Angeles/Long Beach (physically one port), San Francisco Bay (Oakland), Tacoma, and Seattle, so they don't have quite the same problem. Each of the 11 major Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports from Boston to Houston is in a different state*, so politics enters into it--on the West Coast, California and Washington have two ports each, so there's less pressure to attract traffic to one specific port.

* The Port of New York is mostly in New Jersey, and so is part of the Port of Philadelphia, so there's even a a certain amount of interstate rivalry in the same port.
  by Gilbert B Norman
This New York Times article is not encouraging for either the maritime companies using the Canal, or for that matter, the Panamanian government.

Fair Use:
.A severe drought in Panama has resulted in lower water levels in the Panama Canal, forcing some shippers to limit the amount of cargo their largest ships carry so they can safely navigate the waterway.

“The last five months have been the driest dry season in the history of the canal,” said Carlos Vargas, the Panama Canal Authority’s executive vice president for environment, water and energy.

The canal — an engineering masterwork that provides a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific — handles about 5 percent of maritime trade. Any hiccup in its operation can ripple through the global economy and affect the United States, the origin or destination for much of the canal’s traffic. And those problems may become more commonplace as the climate changes.

Earlier this year, the authority imposed draft limits on ships, forcing some to lighten their loads to ride higher in the water so they will not run aground...
Maritime operators, just keep sailing to Port of LA/LB and let Warren or Uncle Pete "do their jobs" for you. Having to ditch some of your containers in Panama to comply with draft limits seems costly and wasteful.

Finally, if you operators are prepared to accept the political instability engulfing Mexico, the Port of Lazaro Cardenas, Mich and the KCS stand ready to serve you - and with docking and drayage costs only a fraction of those to the "Norte".
  by David Benton
i wonder what that means in terms of boxes per ship, and wether the Panama railway is capable of carrying them.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mr. Benton, a 40' container can hold 30T, but I doubt if that msny are loaded to that weight. Cube likely is the controling factor in loading such.

Mr. Cowford, are you out there?

Now so far as using the KCS-PRR as a Panama City-Colon "Land Bridge", compared with having sn empty ship transit the Canal, the two offsets to consider are the tolls assessed that ship agsinst additional drayage to unload and load at Colon (Atlantic side).
  by Cowford
Yo, I'm here! Not aware of any significant impact imposed by draft restrictions, and they postponed the latest due to recent rainfall. I imagine the increased number of "blank" (cancelled) sailings in the eastbound Transpac routes wouldn't help as that's a ploy to get capacity utilization per sailing up. Then again, the cellular ships destined for the East Coast are already draft restricted at some of the primary ports of call, e.g., Savannah... and the ships are generally lighter arriving those ports (with consumer goods) than leaving (with containerized grain, frozen poultry, forest product, etc). Good question on comparative economics of using the Canal vs land bridge; I'll have to research that. Panama was, at one point, selling itself as a distribution hub for the Americas, where containers could be offloaded, shunted off on different vessels, unloaded for light mfg/assembly, etc then reloaded, etc.

IMO 2020, as JayBee mentioned, is interesting to watch unfold. Several months back, I recommended that my northern friends lock in their heating oil pricing for next winter. :wink: