Facebook Page

Port of Long Beach Tour Train 10/20/2012

by Chris Guenzler

I contacted the Port of Long Beach about riding their train and after a few phone calls and e-mails, was sent a ticket for the first train on Saturday October 20, 2012 at 10:00 AM. I worked my substituing job at Adams Elementary School and on Wednesday, took Amtrak 580 to San Diego. There I saw Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull performing both "Thick as a Brick 1" and "Thick as a Brick 2" as well as "Locomotive Breath" before I spent the night in San Diego. Early on Thursday morning, I took Pacific Surfliner 763 back home to Santa Ana and then worked the last two days of the week.

Saturday morning bought us mist and light showers as I drove to the Port of Long Beach and parked in the lot reserved for train passengers. I was the first person there so started to follow the signs.

The flags of the Port of Long Beach.

All Aboard! Rail Tour Boarding.

Did You Know...The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are the largest seaports in the United States. Combined, they are the sixth largest seaport complex in the world, behind facilities in Singapore, Chinese and Korean ports.

Did You Know... The average number of birds at the harbor has more than doubled since the 1970's thanks to the Port's environmental improvement efforts. Biological surveys have also shown improvement in the diversity of fish species in harbor waters.

Job Creation: The Port is planning to spend more than $3 billion in the next decade to modernize its facilities. In addition to generating thousands of temporary construction jobs, these projects are expected to create more than 50,000 new permanent jobs in the region.

Did You Know...The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles move nearly 40 percent of all containerized waterborne imports coming into the United States.

Cranes: The Port's gantry cranes serve as giant mechanical hands and arms that lift cargo containers on and off ships. A skilled crane operator can move a container on or off a ship in less than three minutes.

Did You Know...The Port of Long Beach produces a monthly cable television program, "Pulse of the Port" which airs regularly on Long Beach Television 8. The program is available on the YouTube channel:, and reaches more than 1 million households throughout California through syndication.

Did You Know... Port Security is handled by multiple state, federal and local agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs, Homeland Security, Long Beach Police and Long Beach Harbor Patrol.

Did You Know... The Port of Long Beach supports 30,000 jobs in Long Beach and 316,000 jobs in the Southern California region. About 1.4 million jobs throughout the U.S. are related to Long Beach generated trade.

Containers: The Port of Long Beach has seven container shipping facilities, which together move from 5 to 6 million container units a year. Containers are used to ship all types of consumer goods, as well as food and agricultural products.

Did You Know... The Port's high-tech air monitoring system tracks and reports air quality and weather conditions 24 hours a day at

Green Flag Program: The Port's EPA award-winning Green Flag Program rewards ships that slow down to improve air quality. The program has reduced air pollutions by hundreds of tons a year since it was introduced in 2006.

Did You Know... The Port of Long Beach business activity provides more than $5 billion in tax revenue contributions a year and more than $47 billion in direct and indirect business sales yearly.

Did You Know... Just one of the Port's largest cargo container ships could carry enough shoes to supply one pair each to nearly the entire population of alifornia {31 million}.

Bulk Cargo: The Port handles a significant amount of "bulk cargo", such as petroleum products, chemicals, lumber, steel, and automobiles that cannot be stored in containers. Bulk cargo is generally carried in the hull of a ship or on the deck of a barge.

Did You Know... A single cargo container ship carries enough products to fill an entire shopping mall with clothing, shoes, toys and hand-bags stacked eight-feet high and wall to wall.

Did You Know... The Port uses no tax revenue to operate. The Port receives its income from customer leases and invests the majority back into Port operations and development.

Yard Hostlers: The diesel trucks used to move cargo containers within a shipping facility are known as "yard hostlers". Green Port programs have cut pollution from yard hostlers by more than half in recent years, and the Port is now testing hybrid yard hostlers as part of its Technology Advancement Program.

Job Creation: The Port is planning to spend more that $4.5 billion in the next decade to modernize its facilities. In addition to generating thousands of temporary construction jobs, these projects are expected to create more that 50,000 new permanent jobs in the region.

Pacific Harbor Lines {PHL}: replaced its entire fleet of locomotives in 2007 with 16 low-emision locomotives equipped with cleaner engines, the first of their type built in the United States. PHL, which moves trains within the port, completed a second major locomotive upgraded in 2011, resulting in the entire fleet being rated at U.S. E.P.A. Tier 3 performance for even better air quality.

ITS Redevelopment: the International Transportation Service {ITS} container shipping terminal at Pier G is undergoing a $980 million redevelopment to become greener and more efficient. ITS occupies about 240 acres of land - an area big enough to fit almost 300 football fields.

Pier G: Giant blue A-frame sheds at Pier G store a product called petroleum coke, a by product of gasoline refining, before it is exported. Petroleum coke is a fine dust, so housing it in covered sheds {and enclosing the conveyor belts used for loading ships} helps protect the environment.

This is where you get in line to board the train.

History of Rail at the Port of Long Beach.

On Track for Tomorrow: Much of the cross-country cargo will be loaded onto trains at one of the biggest and most efficient rail yards. The yard will feature 12 tracks and five rail-mounted cranes - the first at the Port. The electric-powered rail-mounted cranes will be faster and have greater lifting capacity than current cranes.

Across the Sea to Your Home.

I was the first to board the Port of Long Beach train tour which had a consist of Metrolink MP36PH-3C 902, cab car 694, coaches 208 and 112, bicycle car 198, coach 201 and cab car 647.

Metrolink's newest bicycle car 198. I sat at a table in coach 112 and was joined by a couple from Long Beach.

Views of Pier G in Long Beach Harbor before we departed, after I called Let's Talk Trains.

The Port of Long Beach office building. At 10:05 AM the train started moving south to start our trip.

Stack train cars were outside my window as we started this unique trip.

The reach of the Southeast Basin of Long Beach Harbor between Pier G on the right and Pier J on the left.

Pier J is run by the International Transportation Service.

Trackmoblies are used to move the stack cars around.

The International Transportation Service building.

Another view of Pier J.

View looking towards Belmont Shore across the arm of the Pacific Ocean.

More views of Pier J.

The is as far south that we came on our trip.

Building F of Cosco.

Two more views of Pier J.

Building F of Cosco. After the engineer switched ends and prizes were given away, we began to trip north to the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility or ICTF.

A view of the Queen Mary to the east.

The giant blue A-frame sheds at Pier G which stores petroleum coke.

The end of the container yard on Pier G.

Another view of the shed containing petroleum coke.

Another of the gantry cranes.

Oil wells still pump oil out of the ground at Long Beach Harbor.

Pacific Harbor Liines MP20C-3 72 working at Pier F.

The first view of the Gerald Howard bridge, over which about 15 percent of all cargo containers that enter the country travels. However, the structure was not designed to handle today's traffic volume. The new replacement bridge will be taller, wider and safer and will include a bicycle and pedestrian pathway.

More bulk cargo unloading facilities.

Pacific Harbor Lines 72 continues its work.

Three views of the Gerald Howard bridge.

A lone steel coil car.

More gantry cranes.

Views of the north side of the Gerald Howard bridge would be seen for the next few minutes.

Channel 3 with Pier D, the oldest in the Long Beach Harbor, to the left and Pier C to the right behind the blue building.

Gantry cranes on Pier C.

Pier Yard will be rebuilt under the Green Port Gateway.

Another view of the Gerald Howard bridge.

We were passing Pier B.

The Gerald Howard Bridge.

The Toyota Facility at Long Beach Harbor.

Two more views of Pier B.

Looking towards Pier A.

Union Pacific's Mead Yard at Long Beach Harbor.

Tank farm and another A-frame shed at Pier A.

One last view of the Gerald Howard bridge.

Tanks at Pier A.

BNSF power heading to Watson Yard.

Piled sulphur is stored ready for loading.

Stacks of containers.

Petroleum plant.

Looking southwest towards San Pedro.

Container trailers.

Refrigerated containers.

Another of those A-frame sheds at Pier A.

Tank farms.

An oil refinery.

The yard tower at the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility.

An oil refinery behind the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility.

One more view of the yard tower there.

The very nice Welcome to Long Beach Harbor pamphlet with our train route highlighted. This was our northern turnback location. After more questions, prizes where distributed and our engineer switched ends, we headed back to our boarding location.

Stacks of containers on the return trip were visible on the return. I thanked everyone for an excellent trip by the Port of Long Beach and Metrolink then drove home and worked on this story before I drove to Norwalk, then took the LA Metro Green Line and Blue Line back to Long Beach to see Ian Anderson there tonight with my friend Brad. After the show, Brad drove me back to Norwalk and I drove home, ending a fantastic day.