Although railroads have experienced some congestion and slowed West Coast traffic, the November Port Tracker report says that concerns for retailers aren’t as great as they might have been last month. Port Tracker is produced by the economic research, forecasting and analysis firm, Global Insight, for the National Retail Federation.
Problems for the railroad, according to Global Insight, came from having to deal with record container volumes combined with disruptions due to lingering effects from the hurricanes that hit the Southern part of the country. Though the Western ports were running smoothly, delays as long as four days – both in and outbound – were being experienced because of railroad backups.
Looking ahead, Global Insight principal economist, Paul Bingham, notes that for the railroads, “With monthly volumes projected to decline over the next few months, the pressure should begin to decrease.”
The report indicates that while record volumes were experienced at West Coast ports, volume had increased more slowly than for the same period last year. Having experienced critical delays last year, the import season began earlier this year. For the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, the PierPass Systems diverted between 30 and 35% of peak work to evenings and Saturdays. Record volumes, with slightly slower growth than last year, was experienced at East Coast ports, as well.
Port Tracker sees that when figures are available, nationally October will have been the peak month at 1.44 million TEU, which is up year over year, 8.9%. Traffic is anticipated to ease down to 1.21 million TEU in February 2006, which will be up 4.3% over this year’s February.