VGM much to do about Intermodal Cargo

Exporters need to consider how their IPI (Interior Point Intermodal) containers will be handled when they arrive at the port. I’d love to jump on the one size fits all bandwagon and tell you rail recorded weights will be used by the ocean terminal to verify inbound containers but that’s simply not true.  This idea is on the wish list of many exporters and trade groups but there are too many diverse factors for it to become reality. Class 1 railroads in the U.S. and Canada do not as a rule provide weight information to the ocean terminal upon arrival at on dock facilities. To date there’s no formal plan to exchange this information and here to fore, it’s never been an issue.  Simply put ports and terminals in the U.S. will be adopting differing strategies for addressing the issue of “On Dock” rail exports. Let’s look at the Port of New York and New Jersey.  This week Port News confirmed “Container weights provided by the railroads are not accepted for VGM purposes. Maher terminals for example will require a separate VGM for containers received from E-Rail.  At PNCT, APMT, GCT New York, GCT Bayonne and Red Hook, containers arriving by rail will be weighed for a $75.00 charge and that weight will be reported to the ocean carrier as verified to be used, as Port News indicates “at the carrier’s discretion”, truly not a hard and fast ruling on containers arriving by rail. Charleston and Savannah have been aggressive in addressing terminal generated weight.  In both ports all arriving containers are weighed.  IPI units are treated no differently than “in gate” moves and terminal generated weights are given directly to the carrier for loading purposes. Bear in mind this information is not shared with the shipper or his agent.  Charleston and Savannah are operating ports and they control both the in gate process and the transmission of cargo data for stowage.  Their operational control allows them to set port wide policies on Verified Gross Mass. In the Gulf the Port of Houston is also a working authority, at Barbours Cut there is a cross dock rail facility which is served by an on port gate system.  Containers are weighed as they transit from the railhead to the quayside container yard.  Weights are provided to the carrier for loading and serve as the VGM weight as agreed to by the carriers under OCEMA. Pacific terminals operating under the West Coast Marine Terminal Operators Agreement (WCMTOA) will address containers arriving by rail on an individual basis terminal by terminal. Exporters are advised to contact their respective carriers and terminal operators for direction on this issue. Contrary to information circulating in the trade there is no quick fix for how IPI containers will be weighed or VGM information transmitted to the carrier.   As I mentioned in my previous blog containers arriving at the ocean terminal by rail represent a whole new set of challenges with regard to VGM certification. Port News – PANYNJ Weight assessment for Rail Containers New IMO regulations on verified gross mass start July 1st
Matt Guasco
Matt Guasco


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