New Orleans Railway Completes Project, Adds Capacity and Improves Freight Flow

The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB) is one of the more fascinating players in transportation.

NOPB is a Class III switching railway that serves the Port of New Orleans. A gateway with a marathon-distance worth of mainline track connects to six Class I railroad networks, unlocking over 132,000 miles of track across North America.

The railway links overseas trade bound to the popular Gulf Coast port and funnels freight deep into regional markets.

Such a responsibility is a tall order for this little railroad that could. NOPB is on a constant swivel to fluidly switch, interchange, and store rail cars.

As trade continues to grow in the region, the railway has taken the initiative to expand capacity and increase throughput in the gateway.

Project adds capacity, expected to boost freight movement

Last week, the NOPB celebrated the completion of an expansion project along the Industrial Canal in New Orleans.

The newly constructed France Road Railyard is expected to improve efficiencies and the railway’s capacity to switch and interchange, while also introducing additional storage space for 220 rail cars.

“Increasing our storage capacity through the New Orleans freight gateway serves the dual benefit of relieving rail congestion and offering customers, railroad partners and the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) a significant competitive edge,” said NOPB General Manager Tomeka Watson Bryant stated in the railway’s media release.

The France Road Railyard is a part of a greater $18.2 million project encompassing the railway’s overall freight movement and capacity.

Through this funding, the railway also completed five new tracks and additional storage, while breaking ground on other yard expansions which will be complete within the next couple of years.

The U.S. DOT awarded $7.29 million to NOPB in 2020 as disbursements from a grant program focused on rail infrastructure and safety.

Stakeholders have lauded the new France Road Railyard as a bringer of highly desired capacity. In return, users will benefit from smoother freight rail movement, including exporters who transload to international markets.

The capacity addition will also support higher volume users and provide uninterrupted delivery.

Final Thoughts

NOPB and the Port of New Orleans agreed to align the former’s track network with the latter’s facilities back in 2017.

Since this collaboration, the railway’s operating income has increased nearly 300 percent, with switching revenues up 20 percent.

Aside from France yard, the NOPB network also includes five other yards: Claiborne, Pauline, Race Street, East Bridge, and South.

The railway also possesses a main classification yard, Cotton Warehouse, located in Uptown New Orleans near its corporate headquarters.

Please contact usif you have any questions regarding this topic or any others in domestic logistics. In addition, stay up to date with weekly headlines from both trucking and rail via our Road Map newsletter. 

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