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Sunday, July 21, 2024 at 1:10 PM

Port of Nevada Offers Direct Rail Line Connection with Port of Oakland

Port of Nevada Offers Direct Rail Line Connection with Port of Oakland
Port of Nevada Hazen and Farm District Road. Photo by Leanna Lehman.

Fallon has long been striving to improve Churchill County’s economy further. Those efforts include working with businesses that seek to operate along the Union Pacific rail line. The goal has been to expand transport options, and the Port of Nevada (PoN) is now helping make that goal a reality. 

In recent history, Omaha Track was among the first to establish itself along the line by installing its railroad tie facility in Hazen. In 2021, Western Nevada Transload followed suit, located just west of Hazen near Bench Road and US Highway 50. For those unfamiliar, Western Nevada Transload is situated at what is called the Port of Nevada, an inland port operation and intermodal ramp that straddles the Churchill and Lyon County lines. 

Developed by Industrial Realty Group (IRG), the port lies along the Union Pacific Railway line and essentially serves Fallon and Fernley. Last week, the Port of Nevada and the Port of Oakland announced collaborative efforts that have resulted in direct services between the ports, providing direct rail service and container offloading. This development will significantly increase rail transportation options for area businesses. 

One of the most noted benefits of rail transportation is cost savings. According to the Port of Nevada, they can offer larger-scale transportation opportunities for area shippers and receivers by bringing in double-stacked shipping containers that can be offloaded and hauled to their destination via truck. Not only is the potential for lower transportation costs possible, but the port has also increased the amount of cargo that can be shipped. 

“Transporting by rail is also very efficient and cost-effective; approximately one ton of rail cargo can be transported 400 miles on just one gallon of diesel fuel,” reports PoN, who claims that a train can travel around 15 to 20 times farther than a truck on one gallon of diesel. “For each freight truck and train, a train is approximately 3.5 times more efficient at hauling freight.” 

Rail transport also results in reduced fuel emissions, according to PoN. “Trains only account for 2% of all transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, while medium- and heavy-duty trucks account for nearly 25%.” PoN estimates that from Long Beach, CA to Reno, a semi-truck will use more than three times the energy (kWh) than a train – and produces approximately three and a half times more tons of CO2 and SO2

PoN also touts the environmental benefits of rail transport, which decrease shippers' carbon footprints and are less impacted by heavy traffic, poor road maintenance, trucking regulations, and California carbon emissions regulations. Additionally, the paramount consideration for Northern Nevada receivers is the frequent inability to get over the mountains during winter storms, delaying critical shipments of products and animal feed commodities. 

PoN boasts the rare distinction of being served by two Class I railroads, Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and BNSF Railway. A mile of track improvement was completed in 2021, and the rail infrastructure was enhanced, including a 5,000-foot line extension. The site has 7,000 linear feet of track and can expand when needed. 

While several animal feed commodities like cottonseed and canola are brought in from the Midwest, getting corn from California to Nevada is challenging in winter. Improved rail connections will provide a more stable supply of the critical feed ration ingredient that local dairy farmers rely on year-round. Other area shippers and receivers that trade in container-based products will also have expanded access through the Port of Nevada facility.

The new direct rail line connection between the Port of Nevada and the Port of Oakland can expand regional transport and spur economic growth for Churchill County and Northern Nevada. This collaboration promises cost savings and environmental benefits and ensures more reliable and efficient transportation for many area businesses.