On-Dock Rail Service, the Alameda Corridor and Intermodal Yards

The Port of Los Angeles has America’s most extensive and modern network of on-dock and near-dock rail services connecting the U.S. imports and exports to international markets. About 35 percent of intermodal containers utilize the Port’s rail network, which includes one near-dock railyard and five on-dock railyards that serve eight container terminals. The use of on-dock rail is growing annually.
 
The Port’s world-class rail infrastructure consists of more than 65 miles of on-dock track for building and sorting double-stack trains that speed imports to markets nationwide and U.S. products to the Port for delivery to consumers around the globe. The average train is made up of 30 double-stack cars, eliminating approximately 400 truck trips and related air pollution on each run while optimizing the movement of cargo.
 
Five modern on-dock rail yards and a sixth yard – a multipurpose staging and storage facility – serve the Port’s full complement of eight marine container terminals. The network operates 24/7 and links to the Alameda Corridor, a dedicated rail expressway that connects the docks to the transcontinental rail system for cargo to flow nonstop between the Port and markets throughout North America.
 
The Port’s rail network also consists of the near-dock Intermodal Transfer Container Facility (ICTF) and five off-dock mainline rail yards – three operated by Union Pacific Railroad (UP) and two operated by BNSF. The UP East Los Angeles Yard and the BNSF Hobart/Commerce Yard near downtown Los Angeles, approximately 24 miles north of the San Pedro Bay ports, handle the majority of the intermodal cargo.
 
Over the past 10 years, the Port has invested more than $300 million to develop and upgrade its comprehensive rail network that provides customers with a superior cargo transportation and delivery system. Between Asia and the U.S., including the East Coast, moving cargo through the Port of Los Angeles is the most competitive route for speed-to-market, cost and reliability.
 

On-Dock Intermodal Service

Approximately 26 percent of all cargo moving through the Port utilizes the on-dock rail network. Cooperatively designed by the Port, its customers and the transcontinental railroads, all on-dock facilities:

  • Expedite cargo by building high-speed nonstop unit trains bound for the same destination
  • Maximize operational efficiency and safety by their location in the backland area of Port container terminals
  • Incorporate storage tracks near loading tracks for maximum operating efficiency and throughput capacity
  • Reduce truck traffic volumes on the freeways that serve the Port for commercial and commuter traffic to flow
  • Accommodate various types of container-lift equipment, including rubber-tire gantry cranes, rail-mounted gantry cranes, reach stackers and top picks
  • Feature security fencing and lighting that meet U.S. Customs and Border Protection requirements
  • Incorporate heavy-duty paving and comprehensive fire protection measures
  • Reduce harmful emissions by eliminating truck trips and using loading equipment and locomotive that run on electricity and clean fuel systems

Pacific Harbor Line (PHL) Inc. is the short-line railroad that builds the on-dock trains and operates the intermodal rail network for the entire San Pedro Bay port complex. Using the Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) System, PHL manages all rail dispatching, switching and maintenance services to ensure the safe, efficient movement of inbound and outbound train traffic. All of the Port's on-dock rail yards are linked to the CTC System and funnel cargo through the Alameda Corridor to the national rail system. The cleanest locomotives available comprise the PHL fleet.
 

Global Gateway South - Eagle Marine Services Ltd.

Global Gateway South is the container facility at Pier 300 on Terminal Island. Operated by Eagle Marine Services Ltd. for APL Limited, the 292-acre (118-hectare) container terminal opened in 1997. Global Gateway South's on-dock rail yard offers customers:

  • 8 loading tracks, each approximately 2,700 feet (823 meters) long and capable of handling a total of 66 five-platform double-stack rail cars
  • 8 adjacent storage tracks, each approximately 2,800 feet (854 meters) long, and capable of handling a total of 73 five-platform double-stack rail cars
  • 10 rail-mounted, electrically-powered intermodal cranes
  • A special-use rail line along four shipping berths for the direct transfer of oversized cargo, such as heavy machinery, between ships and rail cars
  • Fully automated switching and derailing points
  • A compressed-air system to charge rail car brakes
 

APM Terminals and California United Terminals on Pier 400

The Port’s largest on-dock rail yard is located at the Port's largest container terminal, the 484-acre Pier 400 shared by APM Terminals, a subsidiary of Maersk Line, which occupies 393 acres (159 hectares) and California United Terminals (CUT), a subsidiary of Hyundai Merchant Marine, which occupies 91 acres (36.8 hectares). The 48-acre (19-hectare) intermodal facility offers: 

  • 12 loading tracks, each approximately 2,450 feet (747 meters) long
  • Each track has the capability of handling eight 305-foot-long (93-meter-long) double-stack rail cars, for a total capacity of 96 rail cars
  • 6 adjacent storage tracks, each 6,550 feet (1,997 meters) long and each capable of handling 21 305-foot-long (93-meter-long) double-stack rail cars for a total capacity of 126 rail cars
 

Terminal Island Container Transfer Facility (TICTF) - Everport Terminal Services and Yusen Terminals Inc.

Opened in 1997, the Terminal Island Transfer Facility (TICTF) serves both the 205-acre (82-hectare) container terminal operated by Everport Terminal Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Evergreen Marine, and the 185-acre (75-hectare) container terminal operated by Yusen Terminals Inc., a subsidiary of Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Group) and Macquarie Infrastructure Partners III. TICTF’s features include:

  • 8 loading tracks, each approximately 2,150 feet (655 meters) long, and capable of handling a total of 56 five-platform double-stack rail cars
  • 10 adjacent storage tracks, each approximately 2,300 feet (701 meters) long, and capable of handling a total of 70 five-platform double-stack rail cars
  • Two dedicated arrival and departure tracks with a 25 five-platform rail car capacity
  • Dedicated tracks for switching between loading and storage operations 
  • Derail operation for heightened safety 
  • Compressed-air system to charge rail car brakes
 

TraPac On-Dock Rail Yard

Opened in 2016, the TraPac On-Dock Rail Yard, also known as the Trapac Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, serves the 209-acre (85-hectare) container terminal and is the Port’s newest and most technologically advanced on-dock rail facility at the Port of Los Angeles. The automated high-tech rail yard uses an integrated network of laser, differential global positioning system (DGPS) and magnetic technologies to operate state-of the-art rail-mounted gantry cranes that transfer containers to and from rail cars. The infrastructure includes:

  • 8 working tracks on concrete ties, each approximately 2,600 feet long
  • Loading and staging tracks totaling approximately 16,200 feet (4,938 meters)
  • A 136-foot gauge rail-mounted gantry crane rail foundation
  • The rail yard is equipped with a Train-In-Motion system
  • Automatic rail switches
  • Compressed-air system to charge rail car brakes
 

West Basin Container Terminal - Yang Ming Marine Transport and China Shipping North America

In the West Basin area of the Port, Yang Ming Marine Transport operates a 186-acre (75-hectare) container terminal and China Shipping North America operates a 132-acre (53.4-hectare) container terminal. The terminals share an on-dock rail facility whose features include:

  • 3 loading tracks, each approximately 3,000 feet (914 meters) long, and capable of handling a total of 27 five-platform double-stack rail cars
  • 3 adjacent storage tracks, each approximately 3,000 feet (914 meters) long, and capable of handling a total of 27 five-platform double-stack rail cars
  • Dedicated arrival and departure tracks with a 27 five-platform rail car capacity
  • Connecting track for switching between loading and storage yard operations
  • Power-operated turnouts
  • Derail operation for heightened safety
  • Compressed-air system to charge rail car brakes
 

Berth 200 (West Basin) Rail Yard - Pacific Harbor Line

Opened in 2014, Berth 200 Rail Yard, also known as the West Basin Rail Yard, serves as PHL’s base of operations. The modern 60-acre rail transfer facility, expanded and upgraded after having relocated from its former location at Pier A, allows PHL to coordinate on-dock operations throughout the San Pedro Bay port complex. The infrastructure includes:

  • 26 non-intermodal rail car tracks totaling 43,100 feet (13,137 meters)
  • 4 intermodal car support storage tracks totaling 9,700 feet (2,957 meters)
  • Upgraded West Basin branch-line double-track and CTC signal improvements that converge and connect to the Alameda Corridor
  • An 8,000 square-foot (743-square meter) administration and operations control building
  • A dedicated locomotive maintenance and fueling facility with a 5,000-square-foot (465-square-meter) diesel service shed, inspection pits, rooftop solar power system, sanding building with storage and compressed air, and a 1,000-square-foot (93-square-meter) maintenance shed
  • Multiple safety features, including state-of-the-art lighting, in addition to the CTC signalization system
 

Alameda Corridor

The cornerstone of the Port's intermodal train traffic network is the Alameda Corridor, a $2.4 billion, 20-mile-long (32-kilometer-long) below-grade freight rail expressway that opened in 2002. The Corridor serves as the primary connection for cargo-carrying train traffic moving between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the transcontinental rail network based near downtown Los Angeles. Construction of the Alameda Corridor constituted one of the largest public works projects in the nation and eliminated more than 200 at-grade crossings for safer, faster movement of freight by rail and vehicle traffic. Benefits include:

  • More efficient freight rail movements
  • Train capacity of 150 trains per day
  • Reduced vehicle traffic delays and congestion by eliminating at-grade crossings
  • Improvements to the adjacent Alameda Street, a major thoroughfare for commercial and commuter traffic
  • Reduced emissions from both rail and vehicle traffic
  • Reduced train due to below-grade rail trench

 
More information about the Alameda Corridor is available at www.acta.org.
 

Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) (Near-dock)

The Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) is the near-dock rail yard located approximately five miles (eight kilometers) north of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Opened in 1986 to serve all shipping lines, the $55 million ICTF has greatly enhanced transcontinental train service, as well as the relay of marine cargo containers, between the two Southern California container ports and major rail yards near downtown Los Angeles.
 
Operated by Union Pacific Railroad, the ICTF has succeeded in providing excellent service to customers of both seaports, handling more than about 367,400 containers (not TEU) in 2015. 2015.  Customer service features of the ICTF include:

  • Close proximity to all the container terminals of both ports
  • High container lift productivity
  • High train volume to multiple destinations daily in both the United States and Mexico
  • Sufficient land for a 250-acre (101-hectare) rail yard operation, with on-site storage for more than 3,000 containers
  • Loading tracks in six lengths, varying from 3,800 feet (1,158 meters) to 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), that can accommodate a total of 95 double-stack rail cars
  • An adjacent storage yard that can handle up to 100 double-stack rail cars
  • 6 rubber-tire gantry overhead cranes and a sidepick loader for lifting cargo containers
  • A main gate with 16 entrance/exit lanes for container-carrying trucks (the middle eight lanes are reversible in direction to facilitate varying truck arrival or departure volumes)
  • The main gate is open 24/7 and can process an average of 1,800 transactions daily
  • A computer link between the main gate and container-handling equipment in the rail yard, with information relayed to Union Pacific Railroad's computerized cargo-tracking system
  • Security fencing and lighting meeting U.S. Customs and Border Patrol requirements
  • Remote security cameras monitored from the five-story ICTF tower
  • Around-the-clock security patrols
 

Infrastructure

Over the last 10 years, the Port has invested more than $300 million in railway-roadway grade separations and rail system projects to reduce truck trips and optimize the flow of cargo. The Port and its terminal operators are planning to expend hundreds of millions more on rail system projects over the next 10 years to accommodate expected growth in intermodal rail volumes.