Container on Barge Update

By now, many of you have attended the recent IRPT Basin Meetings. Of particular interest during those meetings was the discussion surrounding container on barge (COB). If you missed the basin meetings, a brief recap is below.

There are different types of moves we are currently seeing throughout the inland river system:

1. Domestic moves: The domestic moves that include both origination and destination points on the U.S. river system are the most popular and depending on the origination and destination points, appear to be cost comparative, if not cheaper than trucking from point to point. Examples of domestic moves include:

James River Barge Service operates a service three times weekly from Hampton Rhodes to Richmond. Please check out the 64 Express FAQ page:

2. Shuttle moves

The Memphis/Baton Rouge/ New Orleans shuttle service operated by Seacor AMH operates a weekly service moving loaded containers to Memphis and exporting empty containers from Memphis to Baton Rouge.

The Illinois Shuttle Project is a service for agriculture product between Channahon and Granite City, IL. Sponsored by America’s Central Port in coordination with the Illinois Soybean Association, the service will operate on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.

Maritime Administration Awards $4.85 Million in Grants for Marine Highway Projects

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced $4.85 million in grants to six Marine Highway projects along the waterways of 17 states and the District of Columbia.  The goal of the Maritime Administration’s Marine Highway Program is to expand the use of our Nation’s navigable waterways to relieve landside congestion, reduce air emissions, and generate other public benefits by increasing the efficiency of the surface transportation system.

View the full press release here.

On a national level, IRPT is involved in many initiatives to promote using container on barge. Those efforts include:

  • Memorandum of Understanding with the Panama Canal Authority: Many of you know, IRPT will be signing an MOU with the Authority in Panama on December 13th. We have invited our Members to attend the historic event. IRPT’s members are located on the United States inland river system and are a major source of export and import generation for the economy. Members depend heavily on foreign trade routes such as the Panama Canal. Both IRPT and ACP are constantly undertaking a series of activities aimed at fostering the growth of global commerce and desire to cooperate in creating awareness of the benefits derived from the Canal expansion and from the optimization of existing inland transportation that is used to move various commodities from and to the United States through the Panama Canal.
  • Container on Barge (COB) Planning Project: IRPT partnered with the St. Louis Port Authority, Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative and the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association to apply for a grant through Maritime Administration for a Container on Barge (COB) Planning Project. Recently awarded, the purpose of the project is to create marketable solutions for ocean carriers to move containerized goods through Gulf of Mexico ports to and from the Mississippi River by evaluating and addressing real and perceived challenges and opportunities in comparison with east and west coast ports.
  • Roundtable discussions: IRPT has participated in many stakeholder meetings around the nation to collaborate on customer specific solutions. I want to share with you some insight to help each of you if you are considering container on barge for your area.
    • Advocacy efforts: Regional collaboration is essential. Your marketing efforts should include your State and Regional transportation planners, chambers of commerce, manufacturing associations, freight forwarders and council of supply chain professionals.
    • What the Shipper wants: The owner of the cargo (aka Shipper) will usually want to work with a single provider, rather than working separately with all the necessary servicing companies. Container on barge incorporates many providers and it’s important you are not creating more work or hidden cost for your customer. Identify your team lead as the one point of contact for the shipper. Shippers are looking for alternatives to their current supply chain with comparable pricing. Offering container on barge provides an alternative mode of transportation, generating competition and lower costs on other modes. Have this conversation with your potential customer so they too are aware of additional benefits.
    • Form your teams early and keep in mind when considering a container on barge movement – two teams are needed including all service providers. One at origination and one at destination (and of course, rates vary per city). Have your team members involved in the discussion early so when a potential shipper approaches you for a quote comparison to their current model, you know who to call. Service providers that should be engaged early on should include:
      • Intermodal provider (if shipper is not located on the river)
      • Origination port
      • Origination terminal (if not operated by the origination port)
      • Barge line
      • Destination port
      • Destination terminal
      • Intermodal provider (if different than origination provider)

Other factors to consider:

  • Lean on IRPT for support. We are YOUR association and can provide assistance when needed. We can help in the formation of teams and have insight into additional resources available in your region.
  • Use your membership directory. When looking for team members – choose an IRPT Member when you can. Your directory is sorted by company name alphabetically and also by basin.

This message was sent to Members only. If you know someone who could also benefit from an IRPT Membership, please send them a membership application. Click here to access one!