The 2023 Rail Cargo Incentive Program has been launched by the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) with the aim of promoting growth and cost-effective operations in the Pacific Northwest region. The program aims to increase cargo volumes and decrease costs for importers and exporters who utilize the NWSA gateway and their rail partners.

Roughly 50% of the import cargo that passes through the NWSA gateway is headed for destinations outside of the Puget Sound region, particularly the Midwest. Starting on May 1, 2023, eligible rail volumes that move through the gateway will receive a $50 incentive per rail lift as part of the program.

The program is expected to produce about 60,000 additional rail lifts, or around 15% of NWSA international intermodal lifts in 2022. The initial investment for the incentive funding will be $3 million, with the possibility of extending the program beyond April 2024. Most intermodal inland ramp locations served and/or operated by the BNSF and Union Pacific Railroads will be qualified for the incentive program, including Minot, ND, Pocatello, ID, Millersburg OR, and Wallula, WA.

“The NWSA strives to be the most efficient gateway for cargo movement, and the implementation of the rail incentive will ensure that we remain cost-competitive while offering the same best-in-class service for our customers,” stated NWSA Co-Chair, Deanna Keller.

“As competition in the shipping industry intensifies with current market conditions, the rail cargo incentive program is an important tool to help attract additional cargo volumes that provide critical jobs for maritime workers across our gateway,” said NWSA Co-Chair, Sam Cho.

On April 4, Managing Members authorized the 2023 Rail Cargo Incentive Program, and the NWSA will offer a mid-year update to Commissioners to determine whether additional funds will be granted to keep the program running in the future.