Across the Border: Mexico grows its intermodal connections

Since railroads became privatized in Mexico, intermodal transportation is booming with all major railroad companies and ocean bound shipping lines fighting for dominance.

Every day finds announcements of new services, which are reviving the almost-dead century old rail network and giving shippers better opportunity to move product to market.

Recently, for example, Mexico's largest railroad company, Transportacion Maritima Mexicana, announced construction of a new "mega terminal" at the Pacific Port of Lazaro Cardenas, which will take advantage of a new facility being built there by Hutchison Ports. The facility property is 2.5 kilometers wide and 25 kilometers long along. It will be Mexico's largest container shipping yard.

Today the carrier boasts the fastest "seamless" rail lane between Lazaro and the U. S., with a continuing fast route to Houston and Dallas.

Lazaro has become a major port as shippers began taking advantage of capabilities for moving containers from Asia-Pacific to the U.S. as an alternative to Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Another of the big four Mexican rail companies, Ferrosur, has just opened a new terminal in Puebla. The carrier serves the lucrative route from Mexico City to the Gulf of Mexico.

The new Puebla Intermodal Terminal is touted as a new concept for the region. It's definitely the largest of its kind, says Gerardo Rosas, who manages the line's coastal operations. The terminal began operations in early November, integrating all cargo logistics services into a single operation.

Ferrosur also runs a barge service carrying rail cars from the Gulf Port of Coatzacoalcos to New Orleans for continued railroad routing into the U.S. It has been reborn this year after existing briefly in 1993. Transits were suspended when Hurricane Katrina knocked out port facilities at New Orleans. However, the service is now floating again.

Gerardo Rosas, head of the Transgolfo Terminals branch of Ferrosur, in Veracruz, sighed with relief as the giant barge known as "ferrobuque" (railroad ship) resumed its voyages. He announced the company will add a second deck to the ship by mid-2006 to increase capacity to 122 rail cars, carrying cargo as varied as chemicals, petrochemicals, minerals and "train loads" of Corona Beer.

These are major current events but definitely, not all. Other railroad lines are busy enhancing their facilities. Inland ports are being announced in places such as Mexico's Reynosa, which faces McAllen, Texas, creating trade and facilities that may soon make Mexico a major international crossroads.

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