NORFOLK, VA. - Norfolk Southern today commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the original dedication of Pier 6, its coal transloading facility in Norfolk, with a ceremony at Lamberts Point, where the railroad has been transferring coal directly from rail cars to ships for export for 130 years.
Pier 6 was completed in July 1963 and formally dedicated Sept. 18 that year. It was designed and built primarily to load ships bound for steel mills around the world with high-quality, metallurgical coal from the central Appalachian coal fields. It was then, and remains today, the largest and fastest coal transloading facility in the Northern Hemisphere and continues to dominate the U.S. export coal market.
Today’s ceremony included remarks by Superintendent of Terminals Jeff Yates, retired Senior Vice President-International Bill Bales, retired Senior Piermaster Bob Welch, T. Parker Host CEO David Host, Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, and Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman.
“Pier 6 was an engineering marvel 50 years ago, and it still is today,” Moorman said. “No facility in the world provides the level and quality of service to the global metallurgical and thermal coal markets that Pier 6 does. We have every expectation that it will continue to fill that very large niche for decades to come.”
Pier 6 is unique in its ability to blend coal from different sources to precise formulas as it is being loaded onto ships. It achieves this by dumping coal directly from rail cars into a conveyor system that feeds directly into ships’ holds, in contrast to other facilities that store coal on the ground rather than in rail cars. This is a valuable service to receivers of metallurgical coal, who have exacting blend requirements and can receive the coal ready to use off the ship. Pier 6 also serves the thermal coal market.
Pier 6 was built at a cost of $25 million ($190 million in 2013 dollars). In the last five years, Norfolk Southern has invested more than $43 million to maintain and upgrade track and facilities at Lamberts Point, reflecting the company’s confidence that, even given the challenges facing coal today, the global market will continue to require world-class service into the foreseeable future.
Fast Facts about Pier 6
- Coal operations at Lamberts Point cover 400 acres.
- The entire facility can hold about 6,500 railcars on 150 miles of track.
- It is the largest coal loading facility in the Northern Hemisphere, with a throughput capacity of 36 million tons annually.
- It takes an average of 24 hours to load one ship for a typical load of 80,000 tons.
- With both dumpers and both shiploaders operating, Pier 6 can handle up to 8,000 tons an hour.
- Each shiploader weighs 2,400 tons and rolls on 96 rail wheels. They are among the largest pieces of moving machinery in the world.
- The pier is 1,850 feet long.
- The shiploaders rise 182 feet above the water.
- Lamberts Point, including the 38th Street Car Shop, employs about 450 people.
- In January 2012, Pier 6 loaded a record 159,941.45 net tons (145,097.931 metric tons) of metallurgical coal into the M/V Cape Dover, destined for China. Loading was completed in less than 48 hours.
- Since 1883, more than 1.2 billion tons of coal have been loaded onto vessels at Lamberts Point. This would fill a train stretching almost half way to the moon.
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal, automotive, and industrial products.
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