On September 18, Norfolk Southern commemorated the 50th anniversary of the original dedication of Pier 6, its coal transloading facility in Norfolk, Va., 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 on September 18 of 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.
“Pier 6 was an engineering marvel 50 years ago and it still is today,” Norfolk Southern CEO Wick 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.”
NS says 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. The railroad says 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 past five years, Norfolk Southern has invested more than $43 million to maintain and upgrade track and facilities at Lamberts Point.
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.