Maersk says rail access remains a challenge at Los Angeles

In its weekly update on August 19th shipping company Maersk noted that 33 ships were currently heading to Port of Los Angeles, with 25 are heading to its San Pedro Bay neighbour Long Beach. Vessel wait times for POLA varied widely, from 0 to 13 days, while at Long Beach the wait times were between one and four days.

However, Maersk warned that “access to timely rail service continues to be a challenge”. Overall rail dwell was 11.9 days in LA. According to Gene Seroka about half of the 66,000 containers at the port were scheduled for on-dock rail, a volume that has increased six-fold since February. Maersk said that approximately 50% of the network’s longstanding cargo units dwelling on terminal for 14 or more days were located in the Pacific Southwest ports.

Maersk advised that customers “should continue to take advantage of Los Angeles Saturday Gates and second shifts when available”. From September 1st the Port of Long Beach would be removing the weekend exemption for free time in order to incentivize the use of expanded weekend gate hours.

Maersk said that it continued to face operational challenges at Centerm in Vancouver, with longer than usual vessel wait times for Transpacific services TP1 and TP9, as well as additional delays for the rail traffic due to the lack of space to discharge containers.

To help alleviate the congestion, Maersk said that it was currently taking the following actions:

  • Alignment of eastbound TP9 sailings to match the cadence of Centerm’s contracted carrier service schedules.
  • Evaluation of every TP9 vessel in the queue for possible changes to rotation. This would include calling at Seattle first in the rotation when feasible.
  • Calling at Prince Rupert for discharge of all Vancouver rail cargo.
  • Actively pursuing other options. These would include transshipping over Seattle and utilizing other terminals in Vancouver, including Delta Port and Fraser Surrey Docks.

In addition, Maersk has adjusted its TP7 schedule by adding the ports of Prince Rupert and Surrey. This should aid with the terminal constraints in Vancouver as another alternative to our customers. “While the situation remains fluid, we will continue to share updated Customer Advisories regarding the situation at Centerm, allowing our customers to plan more effectively”, said Maersk.

On the East Coast for the past several months any congestion has been driven by both Transpacific market activity as well as a robust Transatlantic trade. Maersk said that, looking ahead to September, it was still seeing strong East Coast demand relative to the West Coast. As a result, port congestion remained and there had been delays on Transatlantic Services between North America and Northern Europe.

Vessel wait times were running at 1-3 weeks in Newark PNCT, 1-3 days at APM Terminals Elizabeth, 2-18 days for Houston down in the Gulf, and 10-17 days in Savannah. At the latter port 35 ships were currently at anchorage, five of which were Maersk vessels. Maersk said that “to ease this congestion, we are arranging for extra gap loader ships in September where feasible for the East Coast”.

Maersk said that the disruptions experienced on its North American and Northern European networks had required adjustments to its Transatlantic services, including resetting schedules. “Currently, we are adding extra vessels to help reduce the time between departures. The extra vessels will avoid heavily congested terminals, such as Newark PNCT, and enable booking diversions to alternative locations such as Norfolk or Baltimore when possible”, said Maersk.

For all gateways, Maersk customers were asked to provide continued support in prioritizing the pickup of aging cargo.

Meanwhile, an update from shipping line Hapag-Lloyd on August 15th gave the following wait times:

  • Charleston, SC – average 8.1 days
  • Chicago, IL – average 10.5 days
  • Dallas, TX – average 11.6 days
  • Detroit, MI – average 9.1 days
  • Houston, TX – average 7.6 days
  • Kansa City, MO – average 11.4 days
  • Long Beach, CA – average 18.7 days
  • Los Angeles, CA – average 18.8 days
  • Memphis, TN – average 11 days
  • MMR rail New York – average 2.7 days
  • New York, NY – average 8.3 days
  • Norfolk, VA – average 8.1 days
  • Savannah, GA – average 9.7 days