Seaway carrying 50 locomotives from Lake Erie through Massena bound for Africa
Sunday, July 27, 2014 - 5:38 pm

The Eisenhower and Snell Locks at Massena are part of the plan for moving 50 General Electric railroad locomotives from a Lake Erie terminal through the Seaway to their destination of Mozambique in West Africa.

When the work order was drawing to an end and shipping arrangements were being made earlier this spring, the GE Transportation logistics professionals found that The BBC Xingang carried the first load of locomotives through the Seaway, bound for Africa. Photo from St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.The BBC Xingang carried the first load of locomotives through the Seaway, bound for Africa. Photo from St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.there was a nationwide shortage of railroad flat cars for the job, so the shipping option of moving the locomotives on rail flat cars to the East Coast, where they would be loaded onboard ocean vessels for final delivery, was not available.

According to the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the company called on the Port of Erie for assistance, and in a flash, Erie Sand and Gravel was gearing up for the largest project cargo operation in two decades at the port.

Erie Sand and Gravel Terminal has the largest crane in the entire Great Lakes Seaway system, and it is loading the locomotives aboard German BBC heavylift ships.

Five batches of 115-ton locomotives, 10 per ship, were being set to move safely and competitively from the GE plant near the terminal and be marshalled into a staging area near the 1,400 foot quay. The CSX Rail company moved the locomotives aboard flat cars to the terminal only three miles from the plant’s doors.

On May 18, the BBC Xingang arrived in port and the first batch of locomotives were being stowed on deck. Within 24 hours, the ship was headed downbound towards Seaway locks, the St. Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean for the crossing to the southwestern Africa country of Mozambique.

Deliveries of the next 40 canary yellow locomotives will be spread out over the summer.

This is among the largest project cargo movements in the Seaway System history, according to the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

The good news continues as other project cargo is moving through the Seaway, this time destined for Massena.

Within a week of the first export of locomotives, three 180-ton electrical transformers manufactured in the Netherlands arrived aboard Fednav’s M/V Federal Kumano.

Three more are due in late July, to arrive in Massena where they will be put to use by the New York Power Authority.