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Cargo Operations: Brownsville

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West Plains Receives First Unit Train of Grain at Port of Brownsville

West Plains employee opens a hatch from a rail car to release corn grains at the Port of Brownsville grain elevator.
Photo/Port of Brownsville

West Plains received its first grain shipment of the season April 25, 2017.

West Plains LLC received its first grain of the season April 25th at the Port of Brownsville with the arrival of 109 rail cars of corn from Nebraska.

West Plains entered an agreement with the port in 2016 to restore and operate the grain elevator, with capacity to store three million bushels of grain. Since restoration efforts began, West Plains has invested more than $5.5 million in preparation for what the port’s first grain shipment in more than seven years.

On-port rail service is provided by OmniTRAX through a master franchise agreement with the Brownsville Navigation District.

The initial shipment of 109 rail cars is equivalent to 440 semi-truck loads. The corn will be stored for less than 30 days before being trucked to feed lots north of the Rio Grande Valley and parts of the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. Eventually, West Plains expects to receive 220 rail cars monthly.

"We feel like we’re just scratching the surface," said Amit Bhandari, chairman and CEO of the BioUrja Group, parent company of West Plains. "There’s a lot of business here."

West Plains’ plans include facility enhancements to achieve high-speed handling of grain through all modes of transportation, including truck, rail and vessel.

"We’d like to have the ship loader and unloader in about a year," Mr. Bhandari explained. "It will be an investment of $12 to $15 million, and at that point we want to just facilitate trade."

"The partnership between the Port of Brownsville, OmniTRAX Inc., and West Plains is another example of how the port is working to expand the economic vitality of the Rio Grande Valley," said John Wood, chairman of the Brownsville Navigation District.


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