PHL Pacific Harbor Line [featured] 20220810

Pacific Harbor Line: A short line like no other

The September 2022 issue of Trains: THE magazine of railroading has a solid article by Bill Stephens of local interest: all about Pacific Harbor Line, which moves freight from docks to outbound BNSF and Union Pacific trains. The unique short line was “born from inefficiencies that mounted in the mid-1980s as container traffic at the ports grew exponentially.” By 1987 — before the formation of Pacific Harbor Line — getting freight out of the twin harbors was “an odd mix of competition involving three Class I railroads, two ports, and multiple marine terminals and ocean carriers.”

To promote greater efficiency, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach spearheaded the purchase of railroad property within their boundaries, and the railroads agreed to cooperate in creating a neurtral switching railroad:

PHL began operations in fall 1997 by taking over switching operations at the APL terminal at the Port of LA, then at the Evergreen terminal. The railroad began full operations in LA in February 1998 and at Long Beach in August 1998.

The article explains how PHL is a vital link the nation’s supply chain, describes how operations were impacted by the pandemic, and looks into the future of an emission-free fleet by the end of this decade.