BNSF, Northwest Seaport Alliance partner on Port of Tacoma rail hub

The new rail hub is designed to respond to a growing need to expand domestic intermodal capacity within the greater Seattle region.

Western U.S. Class I rail carrier BNSF and the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) are working together to develop a rail hub at the Port of Tacoma that will be known as Tacoma South.

The rail hub will serve the greater Seattle region’s domestic intermodal needs and “unlock capacity” through accommodating more than 50,000 annual container lifts, according to a news release.

“Our collaboration with the NWSA will help support greater warehousing and distribution needs in the fast-growing greater Seattle area,” Tom Williams, BNSF group vice president for consumer products, said in the release.

Don Meyer, NWSA co-chair and Port of Tacoma Commission president, said the new rail hub will reduce truck emissions associated with moving cargo to inland markets.

The Tacoma South facility will also be part of a joint effort between BNSF (NYSE: BRK.B) and J.B. Hunt (NASDAQ: JBHT) to substantially improve intermodal capacity. This new facility will complement BNSF’s domestic intermodal facility nearby in Tukwila, Washington. 

BNSF plans to launch in mid-August with J.B. Hunt a direct container-only joint service between Tacoma South and Chicago, which will enable greater network and facility efficiency for BNSF while increasing container capacity and chassis availability for J.B. Hunt, according to Wednesday’s news release.

In March, J.B. Hunt announced plans to grow its intermodal container fleet to 150,000 units over the next three to five years. The additional capacity would expand the fleet by more than 40% from the close of 2021. J.B. Hunt will also look to place additional chassis in service “based on market need.” 

The company connected its purchasing plan announced in March with its joint initiative with BNSF to expand intermodal capacity. 

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