Pier 6 celebrates loading record, anniversary

AS coal rail shipper Norfolk Southern marks the 50th anniversary of its Pier 6 facility at Lamberts Point in southern Virginia this week, it is also celebrating another major achievement – a coal-loading record for the Norfolk facility.
Pier 6 celebrates loading record, anniversary Pier 6 celebrates loading record, anniversary Pier 6 celebrates loading record, anniversary Pier 6 celebrates loading record, anniversary Pier 6 celebrates loading record, anniversary

Norfolk Southern completed its export facility upgrade at Lamberts Point in Virginia in November 2012.

Donna Schmidt

The M/V China Pioneer loaded 166,840 net tonnes of coal during a stop that ended Tuesday, officials said, breaking a record of 159,941.45 net tonnes previously set on January 12.

It also exceeded a previous record set by Dominion Terminal Associates for the port of Hampton Roads, 163,765 net tonnes in nearby Newport News on February 9, 1992.

China Pioneer took 1561 railcar loads of metallurgical coal for delivery to Chinese customer Liuzhou Iron and Steel.

As for the anniversary celebration, a ceremony on Wednesday marked the fully operational opening of Pier 6 in July, 1963. The facility opened for business just months earlier, in December 1962.

Norfolk and Western Railway, which later joined with Southern Railway to create Norfolk Southern, officially dedicated the facility on September 18, 1963.

The 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 was built at a cost of $US25 million, or $190 million in today’s dollars, and in the last five years Norfolk Southern has invested more than $43 million to maintain and upgrade track and facilities at Lamberts Point.

The investment, officials said, is a reflection of the company's confidence that, even with today’s challenges facing coal, the global market will continue to require world-class service into the foreseeable future.

Today, coal operations at the 450-employee Lamberts Point cover 400 acres, and the entire facility can hold about 6500 railcars. Pier 6 is the largest coal loading facility in the Northern Hemisphere, with a throughput capacity of 36 million tonnes annually.

Norfolk Southern began loading coal and coke at Lamberts Point in 1884. The shipper said that its Pier 6 is the only terminal worldwide to have loaded more than 1 billion tonnes of coal. It met that milestone in 1999.