Saturday, November 10, 2007

First Ship - First Train!

Prince Rupert, October 31, 2007. The big day – evening actually – arrives in the shape of the M/V COSCO Antwerp from the Chinese ports of Hong Kong, Yantian, Qingdao, Dalian and Xiamen as well as Yokohama, Japan. This vessel is capable of carrying 5,400 teu. TEU stands for 20-foot equivalent units. Simply, the number of 20-foot containers she is capable of handling. (BTW, her sister ship, M/V COSCO Busan just hit the Bay Bridge a few days ago!)

Containers also come in a 40-foot, that you typically see on the highway. A 40-foot container would equal two 20-foot units. The next time you are stuck behind one at a light, read the vast amount of information concerning the dimensions and weights – all of which are factored into loading a vessel.

So we’ve all seen pictures of container cranes lifting containers off the ship, and loading them onto a trailer, ominously referred to as a bombcart pulled by a yard tractor. The name seems to be derived from carts used to haul bombs to aircraft. Some yards use modified forklifts or straddle-carriers; to unload the bombcart, placing the container in an assigned order for loading onto rail cars.

The vehicle of choice in this facility is the Kalmar DRF450-605SXC reachstacker, an odd looking material handling machine with a long boom connected to the spreader which grasps the container. Look carefully - there are two in this photo. It’s also used to load the to load the double-stack rail cars.

Here is the entire process - from ship to rail. Once the rail cars are loaded, and the locomotives connected, an impressive train is ready to go. The first container train out of Prince Rupert on November 1st 2007 was 180 double stack cars – 360 containers, some 9,000 feet or 1.7 miles long, heading for Chicago, 3,000 miles and 105 hours to the east!

When I first saw this photo - shock! Gone is the unnerving gravel road sans shoulders! Pavement, with strips, fog line and turn-out! Phooey! The old days were much more "exciting!"

All photographs in this series are Courtesy Port Authority of Prince Rupert. This completes my three-part look at this important piece of railroading history. It was an important follow-up event for, because THIS is where it all began for me, back in 1957.

See also:
* New Era
* Container Cranes Arrive
* Dedication

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