Georgia Ports Authority’s expanded Mason Intermodal Container Transfer Facility is open for business in Savannah GA, with improvements cutting round-trip Norfolk Southern train movements to Atlanta by six hours.

“These improvements allow Norfolk Southern to offer an efficient, competitive route to the large inland port just up the road: Atlanta,” said Jeffrey Heller, NS group vice-president of international intermodal services.

At the November 16 ribbon-cutting ceremony, GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz said the $6.5 million, 6,000-foot rail yard extension will expand capacity, improve efficiencies, and reduce costs for customers.

With this expansion, the Garden City Terminal’s two rail yards, serving Class I rail providers Norfolk Southern and CSX, now feature a total of 46,921 linear feet of track.

“Our two on-terminal facilities mean shippers don’t have to haul their goods to remote rail yards, and can get cargo moving to distribution centers or other destinations more quickly,” Foltz said.

GPA has 64 electric refrigerated container racks that accommodate more than 1,500 containers on terminal. To handle anticipated growth in refrigerated cargo, in October the Georgia Ports Authority board of directors approved the addition of 20 new racks that will support a total of 2,016 containers that will go online in spring 2013. The new racks mean a total GPA fuel avoidance of 4.5 million gallons.

Previously, trains entered the Mason ICTF from the east and exited toward the west. This required the trains to make a wide loop through Garden City. The expanded lines, working in conjunction with a wye installed by Norfolk Southern, will allow arriving trains to enter from the west. The cars will be switched on terminal, with trains later exiting toward the west. The new operation will avoid the use of 21 at-grade rail crossings and shave six hours from the round-trip turn times to Atlanta.

The Port of Savannah was the second busiest US container port for export of American goods by tonnage in FY2011. It also handled 8.7% of US containerized cargo volume and 12.5% of all US containerized exports in FY2011.

For additional information, visit www.gaports.com.