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Maritime

While N.C. Ports Reopen, CSX's Embargo On Wilmington Rail Traffic Remains

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Sep 25, 2018
Florida-based rail company CSX has embargoed inbound traffic to facilities between Lumberton and Wilmington. (File photo)
An embargo on inbound rail traffic to facilities between Lumberton and Wilmington issued by Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX last week remains in effect, as traffic is being diverted around its hurricane-impacted infrastructure, CSX officials said Tuesday.

On Sept. 18, the rail and intermodal rail-based transportation company issued a customer advisory stating that CSX was rerouting traffic in affected areas to meet the needs of its customers, while its engineering team assessed the impacts of Hurricane Florence to its infrastructure.

A spokeswoman with CSX said that the company was continuing to reroute train traffic around track segments that were impacted by the storm. 

“Customers with shipments traveling through the I-95 freight rail corridor can expect delays as we reroute freight around the area,” she said.

CSX said Monday that it anticipates service restoration between Wilmington and Pembroke this weekend. Officials added that customers can check its website for updates.

When asked about the embargo and its impact on Wilmington rail service and its Queen City Express, an intermodal rail service that runs trains between Charlotte and the Port of Wilmington, the spokeswoman said in an email, "Yes -- the embargo is still in place on the rail service."

N.C. Department of Transporation officials with its Rail Division said that NCDOT will be gathering information about the hurricane's impacts and damages to North Carolina's network of rail lines in the coming weeks.

According to NCDOT officials and its rail operators and branches map, CSX is the only operator of lines in the Wilmington area. NCDOT officials said that as of Monday, there was no rail service to the Port of Wilmington, but the port is open for other commercial traffic.

N.C. Port’s terminals in Wilmington and Morehead City resumed vessel operations last week and full commercial truck operations Monday, according to a news release issued by the ports Monday. The ports, however, did not mention rail service in the release.

“The arrival of these ships to their respective ports marks the return to normalcy after such a devastating storm across eastern North Carolina. N.C. Ports looks forward to getting its terminals back on track for its customers,” N.C. Ports Executive Director Paul J. Cozza said in the release.

Hurricane Florence forced N.C. Ports to close its Wilmington and Morehead City terminals Sept. 13, Bethany Welch, spokeswoman for N.C. Ports, said in an email Tuesday.

Welch said she was unable to confirm whether or not trains were running to and from the Port of Wilmington.

The captain of the port and the U.S. Coast Guard opened both navigational channels to the ports last Tuesday and Morehead City resumed vessel operations Wednesday, while Wilmington resumed vessel operations Thursday, Welch said.

The Port of Wilmington accepted its first vessel post-storm last Thursday, the Yang Ming Uniformity – operating on THE Alliance EC2 service linking Asia to Wilmington, according to the release.

“There are no vessel restrictions … The Port of Wilmington has received a steady flow of vessel traffic since reopening to vessel operations on Thursday,” Welch said in her email Tuesday.

Welch said the port did sustain some damages to warehouses and containers, but it was not affecting the ports ability to service traffic.

“Wilmington suffered damage to empty containers as many were impacted by the wind. The Port of Wilmington also suffered some wind and water damage to a few of its warehouses. All major infrastructure, like the cranes, suffered no damage and weathered the storm well. The damage has not impacted operations as N.C. Ports’ terminals are operating under normal hours -- it’s business as usual,” Welch said.
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