Pacific Imperial Railroad Attends Logistics Summit in Ensenada
Last Thursday, June 11, the Pacific Imperial Railroad (PIR) team attended the very first Logistics Summit of Baja California, in Ensenada, Mexico. The aim of the conference was to gather the regional leaders involved in transportation and logistics from both the public and private sectors to discuss the future logistical opportunities and challenges that face the region.
Among the speakers was Hector Bautista, General Director of the Ensenada Port Authority, who explained that close to $40 million USD have been authorized to upgrade the docks and build a wave deflector, ultimately allowing the port, which already receives the third largest amount of containers in Mexico on the Pacific, to receive even larger ships.
As one drives down the scenic Mexican Federal Highway 1D, that hugs the coast from Tijuana to Ensenada, it is impossible to ignore the innumerable trucks with chassis loaded with containers heading to and from the US-Mexico border. These trucks barreling down the 1D, make it glaringly obvious that initiatives set to improve the logistical interconnectivity of the border region are integral to future economic prosperity.
There was a positive attitude with regards to what the future holds that was captured by a presentation by Gary Gallegos, Executive Director of San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), who chose to focus not only the challenges that the future will bring but also the challenges that have been overcome like the recently completed El Chaparral project and the east/west pedestrian bridge. These improvements to the San Ysidro Port of Entry have resulted in greater efficiencies for the flow of commercial traffic through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
However, various studies indicate that billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are lost every year due to wait times at the border. Mr. Gallegos gave an update on the progress of the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry, sometimes referred to as Otay II, currently under construction and set to open as early as 2017, which will ease the tension on the current supply chain bottleneck at Otay Mesa.
So where does Pacific Imperial Railroad fit into the picture?
PIR’s very own Donald Stoecklein was also an honorary speaker and panelist at the Summit, and addressed many issues pertaining to the region’s freight transportation. Unlike Baja Rail, the concessioner for the line on the Mexican side, which received nearly the equivalent of $25 million USD from the Mexican Federal Government for reconstruction efforts, PIR has been relying on raising capital privately.
Stoecklein pointed out that although PIR is currently in talks with Baja Rail to reach an agreement, failure to do so has resulted in difficulties with respect to attracting investors. Mr. Stoecklein unveiled a change in the rehabilitation strategy that includes the construction of an intermodal facility that will allow the railroad to become operational and profitable independent of an agreement with Baja Rail.
Currently, truck drivers crossing the border with containers must battle traffic all the way to Los Angeles County, routes which include some of the worst bottlenecks in the country, to reach the U.S. rail network. This allows for only one trip per day by each truck.
PIR’s planned site for the intermodal facility will enable truckers to make two trips a day and will ultimately save shippers time and money by providing alternative access to Union Pacific, where the Desert Line connects in the East.
Roberto Romandía, CEO of Baja Rail, confirmed that both parties are currently in negotiations to reach an agreement and expressed a spirit of cooperation and optimism.
Overcoming Baja California’s regional transportation and logistics challenges will indeed require much cooperation between the various public and private entities involved, but PIR is excited to take on these challenges and looks forward to reaching an agreement with Baja Rail and rehabilitating the Desert Line.