Trains.com

Midwest containers via Florida

19685 views
383 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    May 2005
  • From: S.E. South Dakota
  • 13,173 posts
Midwest containers via Florida
Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, October 18, 2021 12:48 PM

     One of my know-it-all coworkers said "they" have got the container problem "fixed". "They're just going to ship all the container through Florida. Problem solved".

     At a meeting with a supplier last week, we were told that the cost to ship a container of doors from Malaysia to central Minnesota was $4800 last year. Now, we are being told, that cost is passing $20,000 and heading toward $30,000 as demand and supply are so far out of whack. On top of that, they are saying that the usual lead time has stretched from 8 weeks to 17+ weeks from factory to loading dock.

      Can container traffic be diverted that easily? Does Florida do a lot of container receving, and can they handle a lot more? Can the railroads handle an increase in container traffic from Florida to the Midwest and Upper Plains? Wouldn't something like this add a lot of expense?

      Related thought- do any container ships go to the Great Lakes?



   

      

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

  • Member since
    February 2018
  • 167 posts
Posted by adkrr64 on Monday, October 18, 2021 1:46 PM

See this report here - nice graphical representation of freight handled at all US ports in 2019:

https://www.bts.gov/newsroom/port-performance-freight-statistics-annual-report-0

Looking at the various pie charts, Florida handled far less freight than Long Beach/ LA. While maybe there is some available capacity in Florida, I doubt there is anything close to enough to make a significant dent in west coast traffic. If it was that easy, the problem would have been "solved" much earlier.

Also not shown is transload capacity - how much of that container traffic can move out by rail vs. truck. I imagine there are some ports that are better for outbound rail movements than others.

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 22,582 posts
Posted by tree68 on Monday, October 18, 2021 1:48 PM

Murphy Siding
    Related thought- do any container ships go to the Great Lakes?

There is an effort to move containers on the Great Lakes, but it's early in its development.  This might be behind a pay wall:  https://www.nny360.com/communitynews/business/container-shipping-making-waves-on-st-lawrence-great-lakes-system/article_904ae85e-241f-573c-98e6-5ca55a4c7392.html

I think the biggest question is whether any of the current container ships can reach the Great Lakes via the St Lawrence.  While the Soo locks can handle the 1,000 footers, the St Lawrence locks are a bit smaller.  Each lock is 233.5 metres long (766 feet), 24.4 metres wide (80 feet) and 9.1 metres deep (30 feet) over the sill.

On the Welland Canal, max boat length is 740 feet, beam is 78 feet, and draft is 26.5 feet.

Panamax container ships are 965 feet long, with a 106 foot beam and a 39.5 foot draft.

 

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 12,568 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, October 18, 2021 1:57 PM

There were some smaller container ships on the Great Lakes in the late 1960's and early 1970's.  Manchester Liners was a major carrier in the market at that time.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 21,506 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Monday, October 18, 2021 2:13 PM

My understanding is that virtually all container ports in North America are under volume stress.  The Pacific ports more so than the Atlantic ports, but all the Atlantic ports all have their issues.

  • Member since
    October 2008
  • From: Canada
  • 1,602 posts
Posted by cv_acr on Monday, October 18, 2021 2:29 PM

tree68
the St Lawrence locks are a bit smaller.  Each lock is 233.5 metres long (766 feet), 24.4 metres wide (80 feet) and 9.1 metres deep (30 feet) over the sill. On the Welland Canal, max boat length is 740 feet, beam is 78 feet, and draft is 26.5 feet.

Yes, this is absolutely the limiting factor, so big international ships can't get past Montreal.

And you can't reach the Great Lakes via the Mississipi so if you wanted to get there it has to go all the way around the Canadian maritimes.

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Antioch, IL
  • 4,147 posts
Posted by greyhounds on Monday, October 18, 2021 3:01 PM
There are container ports in Florida.  But there is no way they can replace the overwhelmed capacity of the much larger US west coast ports.  The Florida ports could take a bit, as could New Orleans, Mobile, etc.  But I don’t think it would be enough to make a difference. 
 
East coast US ports are getting backed up too.
 
There is a small container operation on the Great Lakes out of Cleveland.  But, as has been mentioned, it is very capacity limited due to the low vessel draft allowed on the Seaway canals.  This Cleveland-Europe service also cannot operate in the winter.
 
There is no silver bullet for this supply chain mess.  The mess is starting to drag down the economy.  And it’s helping create significant inflation as shortages proliferate.
 
"By many measures, the U.S. freight rail system is the safest, most efficient and cost effective in the world." - Federal Railroad Administration, October, 2009. I'm just your average, everyday, uncivilized howling "anti-government" critic of mass government expenditures for "High Speed Rail" in the US. And I'm gosh darn proud of that.
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 21,506 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Monday, October 18, 2021 4:18 PM

greyhounds
... 
There is no silver bullet for this supply chain mess.  The mess is starting to drag down the economy.  And it’s helping create significant inflation as shortages proliferate.

There is no ONE fix that fixes the 'supply chain' and restores 'just in time inventory'.  Organizations that view sustained operations as critical - will have to expand their warehousing inventory so that they are not as tied to the fluctuations of their own supply chain, with the understanding that THEIR supply chain can be adversely affected by problems in other people's supply chains.

Backlogged ports, be they US or foreign affect virtually ALL supply chains.

It is amazing what happenings can create major transportation nightmares in supply chains.

In the middle 70's the USSR had several years of harvest failures and began buying grain from the USA.  Gulf and Atlantic ports soon became swamped with export grain for the USSR.

In the late 70's and early 80's the Export Coal market boomed.  At one time there were reported to be over 100 vessels waiting to dock at the Chessie System's Curtis Bay Coal Pier.  There were similar backlogs at Newport News on the C&O as well as Lamberts Point on the NS.  In response additional coal handling facilities were built in Baltimore and Hampton/Newport News area.  In Baltimore the Bayside and Consol facilities were built, in the Hampton/Newport News are the Dominion Terminal facility was built.

Additional container facilities will be constructed and additional handling infrastructure will be built and in several years world shipping will become fluid again.

  • Member since
    January 2014
  • 7,039 posts
Posted by Euclid on Monday, October 18, 2021 5:43 PM
I am reading all of the news opinions as to what is causing the supply chain problems.  The news makes it seem like this problem exploded on the scene a couple weeks ago.  Yet it has been around since about March 2020.  Maybe it mitigated a bit toward fall 2020, but it was clearly back by last April, particularly with computer products.  We have been told that inflation is growing worse and causing prices to rise. 
 
Now all of a sudden we are told that it is the supply chain shortages causing prices to rise.  And we are also being told that our consumer demand is excessive and that is what is causing supply chain problems, and by extension, causing inflation. 
 
Yet up until a couple days ago, the explanation for rising prices was too much deficit spending; a classic cause for inflation.  That is the classic cause of inflating the money supply by borrowing so we have too many dollars chasing too few goods.    
 
This link contains a quote that I do not understand:
 
 
From the link:
 
"Strengthening our supply chains will continue to be my team’s focus," said Biden. "If federal support is needed, I will direct all appropriate action, and if the private sector doesn’t step up, we’re going to call them out and ask them to act."
 
What does the President mean by the last sentence in that quote?  What does he expect the private sector to do?  What does he mean by “Call them out”?  That does not sound friendly.  It sounds more like a thinly veiled threat.  So what does he want the private sector to do when they step up after being called out by the Government?     
  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 4,548 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, October 18, 2021 5:54 PM

Until recently, west coast ports were not working 24-hour days. Supposedly they have started. Perhaps that is what is meant as an example of "stepping up" to meet the crisis in logistics?

  • Member since
    September 2013
  • 2,219 posts
Posted by caldreamer on Monday, October 18, 2021 7:12 PM

The ports of Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle can be used to take some of the strain off the LA ports.  NO ONE has mentioned any overload of traffic going into these ports.  It is always the LA ports.  Why not shift some of the traffic north, unload the ships and move them back to their next destination instead of saying "woe is me we have shipps waiting to unload".

  • Member since
    December 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 10,534 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, October 18, 2021 7:58 PM

Did this jam up begin with the Ever Given ?  Can these super max ships even go to other west coast terminals ?  Are they so oversized that they cannot go thru the Panama canal to go to east coast terminals ?

  • Member since
    May 2005
  • From: S.E. South Dakota
  • 13,173 posts
Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, October 18, 2021 8:05 PM

caldreamer

The ports of Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle can be used to take some of the strain off the LA ports.  NO ONE has mentioned any overload of traffic going into these ports.  It is always the LA ports.  Why not shift some of the traffic north, unload the ships and move them back to their next destination instead of saying "woe is me we have shipps waiting to unload".

 

I wonder if it is that simple? Can a ship be diverted to a different port without major problems? Is there capacity there to unload, and railroad or truck capacity to forward the containers?

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Antioch, IL
  • 4,147 posts
Posted by greyhounds on Monday, October 18, 2021 8:24 PM

caldreamer
The ports of Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle can be used to take some of the strain off the LA ports.  NO ONE has mentioned any overload of traffic going into these ports.  It is always the LA ports.  Why not shift some of the traffic north, unload the ships and move them back to their next destination instead of saying "woe is me we have shipps waiting to unload".

Do you really believe No One has thought of that?  Those ports are backed up too. 
 
And if you start trying to move a lot more cargo through them, where are they going to get the container chassis, truck drivers, and stevedores to handle it?
 
This has no ready solution.  And the government types/fools can say what they want, but they can’t “Enact” a container chassis.
 
Edit to add:  We buy groceries on-line from Walmart.  We wanted two baking potatoes.  Walmart was out of stock.  When Walmart Grocery can't get potatoes to sell, you know there's a real problem with no easy answer.
"By many measures, the U.S. freight rail system is the safest, most efficient and cost effective in the world." - Federal Railroad Administration, October, 2009. I'm just your average, everyday, uncivilized howling "anti-government" critic of mass government expenditures for "High Speed Rail" in the US. And I'm gosh darn proud of that.
  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 22,582 posts
Posted by tree68 on Monday, October 18, 2021 8:31 PM

Murphy Siding
I wonder if it is that simple? Can a ship be diverted to a different port without major problems? Is there capacity there to unload, and railroad or truck capacity to forward the containers?

I would opine that physical port capabilities might be a problem.  Draft could be a limiting factor.  I'm sure much of that information is available - some one else can dig it out.

As mentioned, throughput could be an issue.  Do the roads and the railroads have the capacity to handle a significant increase in traffic?  Are the RR cars and truck chassis available?  Does the railroad have crews and equipment available to run more trains, or if not more trains, then longer trains?

Running those ships to another port shouldn't be anything that can't be sorted out.  Right now they're sitting around, waiting.  A day or two in transit to another port wouldn't be an issue, I wouldn't think.

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: The 17th hole at TPC
  • 1,989 posts
Posted by n012944 on Monday, October 18, 2021 8:49 PM

An "expensive model collector"

  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: South Central,Ks
  • 6,828 posts
Posted by samfp1943 on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:08 PM

Murphy Siding

 caldreamer

The ports of Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle can be used to take some of the strain off the LA ports.  NO ONE has mentioned any overload of traffic going into these ports.  It is always the LA ports.  Why not shift some of the traffic north, unload the ships and move them back to their next destination instead of saying "woe is me we have shipps waiting to unload


" Can a ship be diverted to a different port without major problems? Is there capacity there to unload, and railroad or truck capacity to forward the containers? "

 

Norris:  I think you may have hit on what might be the $64,000.00 Question..Oops - Sign

So far the Forum members are mentioning  Container traffic rerouted to Florida...Also possibly, might be Ports on the Gulf (Alabama?), and possibly New Orleans?   The problem seem to be getting the ships from Pacific Ports, in California; and some of the other Left Coast Ports??  The major issue there would seem to be Transiting the Panama Canal....[Cost + per Ship??|  My guess is mucho ++ expensive ?

There is another Port on the West side; Lorenzo Cardenas,Mx.  Currently served directly by the KCSdeM (KCRRR)  and possibly, beforer long by the "NEW" (?) Canadian Pacific owner of the Kansas City Southern RR ?   Such a route would cut off the Panama Canal (Water Route) Transit Costs??  

Which brings me to ask: (Since the KCSRR owns the parallel cross istmus Panama Canal RR.... Does Canadian Pacific get to own that also?  Have seen that part of the KCS Railroad Deal, mentioned anywhere?  Whistling   )

 

 

 


 

  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: Harrison Township, Michigan
  • 1,262 posts
Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:16 PM
 

I'll add to the comments on Great Lakes container trade. Not only are draft restrictions an issue. If you'd were to operate any year round service it would require ice class vessels which are more expensive to build.

 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 21,506 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:18 PM
  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: Harrison Township, Michigan
  • 1,262 posts
Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:21 PM
 

Euclid
I am reading all of the news opinions as to what is causing the supply chain problems.  The news makes it seem like this problem exploded on the scene a couple weeks ago.  Yet it has been around since about March 2020.  Maybe it mitigated a bit toward fall 2020, but it was clearly back by last April, particularly with computer products.  We have been told that inflation is growing worse and causing prices to rise. 
 
Now all of a sudden we are told that it is the supply chain shortages causing prices to rise.  And we are also being told that our consumer demand is excessive and that is what is causing supply chain problems, and by extension, causing inflation. 
 
Yet up until a couple days ago, the explanation for rising prices was too much deficit spending; a classic cause for inflation.  That is the classic cause of inflating the money supply by borrowing so we have too many dollars chasing too few goods.    
 
This link contains a quote that I do not understand:
 
 
From the link:
 
"Strengthening our supply chains will continue to be my team’s focus," said Biden. "If federal support is needed, I will direct all appropriate action, and if the private sector doesn’t step up, we’re going to call them out and ask them to act."
 
What does the President mean by the last sentence in that quote?  What does he expect the private sector to do?  What does he mean by “Call them out”?  That does not sound friendly.  It sounds more like a thinly veiled threat.  So what does he want the private sector to do when they step up after being called out by the Government?     
 

We've had "supply chain" issues for years. Chassis shortages, low port efficiency due to the current tenant system, and lane imbalances. We create alot of empty boxes on this side of the world. The current situation just exacerbated lingering problems..

The government is the last participant you want in this situation.. 

 
 
 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
  • Member since
    May 2005
  • From: S.E. South Dakota
  • 13,173 posts
Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:28 PM

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 21,506 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:43 PM

Murphy Siding
 
caldreamer

The ports of Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle can be used to take some of the strain off the LA ports.  NO ONE has mentioned any overload of traffic going into these ports.  It is always the LA ports.  Why not shift some of the traffic north, unload the ships and move them back to their next destination instead of saying "woe is me we have shipps waiting to unload". 

I wonder if it is that simple? Can a ship be diverted to a different port without major problems? Is there capacity there to unload, and railroad or truck capacity to forward the containers?

One thing to remember - most ships involved in the container business are on scheduled routes making port at a number of locations along their scheduled route.  The ships unload and load containers at each port of call - changing ports of call would create additional logistic challenges in the the handling of containers for the vessel - even changing ports on the same coast would create a logistical nightmare for the company and ports involved.

Container ships do not operate in a get fully loaded at A and fully empty at Z type operation.  While a ship may be able to hold 20K TEU's, it will rarely if ever have that may on board.  Instead the vessel may leave Port A with 14K TEU on board, it goes to Port B and unloads 1K TEU and loads 2K TEU, it sails on to Port C and unloads 3K TEU and loads and so on an so forth around all the ports of call on both sides of the ponds.

  • Member since
    April 2015
  • 403 posts
Posted by Enzoamps on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:48 PM

Even if alternative ports could be switched into action, there is the whole other side to consider.   Those ships don't just dump their cargo and sail away empty.  If nothing else, we cannot import anything without a container to ship it in.   And if we don't return our empties, ther are not containers.

And if we are exporting grains or other agricultural goods, can we take them from the west coast and simply move them all to the east coast?  Not reasonably.

  • Member since
    September 2011
  • 5,504 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:51 PM

SD60MAC9500
 

I'll add to the comments on Great Lakes container trade. Not only are draft restrictions an issue. If you'd were to operate any year round service it would require ice class vessels which are more expensive to build.

 
 

The railroad carferries opperated year around.  I think the problem is more with the locks.  They would like to keep the Soo locks open longer, but the Army Corps of Engineers wants the 2 month winter shut down to do maintenance.

  • Member since
    September 2011
  • 5,504 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:56 PM

caldreamer

The ports of Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle can be used to take some of the strain off the LA ports.  NO ONE has mentioned any overload of traffic going into these ports.  It is always the LA ports.  Why not shift some of the traffic north, unload the ships and move them back to their next destination instead of saying "woe is me we have shipps waiting to unload".

 

I thought of that also, but then I remembered that the western railroads have built their system to funnel almost everything into their main hub of Chicago, where the actual nexis of the problem seems to be.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 21,506 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:56 PM

Maersk Montana - operates in liner service between the USA and Europe

https://www.vesselfinder.com/vessels/MAERSK-MONTANA-IMO-9305312-MMSI-367759000

  • Member since
    September 2010
  • From: East Coast
  • 1,011 posts
Posted by D.Carleton on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 12:37 AM

Murphy Siding

     At a meeting with a supplier last week, we were told that the cost to ship a container of doors from Malaysia to central Minnesota...

By no means an expert, haven't spent a whole lot of time there but if there is anyplace that could manufacture their own doors it would be Minnesota.

Editor Emeritus, This Week at Amtrak

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 21,506 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 6:28 AM

D.Carleton
 
Murphy Siding

     At a meeting with a supplier last week, we were told that the cost to ship a container of doors from Malaysia to central Minnesota... 

By no means an expert, haven't spent a whole lot of time there but if there is anyplace that could manufacture their own doors it would be Minnesota.

Suspect it is featured that the cost of labor in making doors in Minnesota would be too high in comparison to the foreign doors.    Products are manufactured to meet a particular 'price point'.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 21,506 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 7:04 AM
  • Member since
    January 2014
  • 7,039 posts
Posted by Euclid on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 7:27 AM

The real crisis looming is hyperinflation, and the blame will fall squarely on the hyper spending that we all will pay for.  Those in charge of the spending do not want to be blamed for the hyperinflation; and simply denying it is not working. 

So, it is telling that we should suddenly be served up a new crisis to take our minds off the 600-pound gorilla of hyperinflation.  And so conveniently, this new crisis, named "Supply Chain," is said to be our fault for buying too much, and also a sign of how successful our economic recovery is; and thus a reason why we should feel good about Supply Chain Crisis.  

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy