Having access to a weekly sailing schedule allowed us to change the shipment up to a month or two in advance.

Jeff Wright, Project Manager at PRS, explains that the principal reason why WWL was chosen for this assignment was the flexibility of its service.

“Having access to a weekly sailing schedule allowed us to change the shipment size or date up to a month or two in advance.This was without question the most important factor when choosing this solution,” says Wright.

“The other option would’ve been to charter a vessel, but required us to hit a specific shipping date – which is hard when manufacturing complex products such as these.”

Each locomotive weighs 105 metric tonnes and takes up 221 cubic metres. Overland transport is made more complicated as these narrow-gauge locomotives cannot be transported by rail on their own wheels within the USA. WWL’s Port of Savannah site, located less than 150 kilometres from PRS’s plant in Patterson, Georgia, made the journey a little easier.

The first two locomotives
left Savannah in October 2013, with a further four shipments being rolled onto WWL’s vessels bound for Australia during the spring of 2014. In Tasmania, the locomotives will be used in both freight and mining operations by PRS’s customer TasRail.

PRS’s specifications for the assignment were clear: it required an ocean carrier that could ship its locomotives with the bogies attached, due to the fact that disconnecting and re-connecting the units upon arrival, as well as building cradles and cribbing to hold them on board without the bogies, would be complicated, time-consuming and costly.

Jeff Wright admits that he was impressed by the proactive way in which WWL dealt with the assignment.

“Before the first shipment, WWL representatives visited our plant in Patterson to inspect the locomotives. As a result, they re-adjusted their RoRo equipment, adding additional steel cross beams to the rolltrailers, in order to support the cargo,” he says. Although Bell Bay Port in Tasmania is not on the standard route for WWL’s vessels, WWL Account Manager, Angela Gonzalez, explains that adding an extra port call was not as complicated as one might think.

“A Bell Bay call adds only one extra day to the vessel’s port rotation, plus another day for discharge, so it was possible for us to do this on a vessel that was not time constrained,” she says.

“This allowed the customer to pick a vessel to determine a call – giving them added flexibility.”While a RoRo solutions was not Progress Rail’s initial preference, Wright admits that this choice has ended up resulting in unexpected benefits.

“It turned out that the track at Bell Bay Port was not adapted to receive the locomotives directly adjacent to the vessel berth,” he explains. “If they’d been coming off a LoLo vessel, we would have had to lift them onto another vehicle to move them further into the port. In this case, they were already on WWL’s rolltrailers so we could simply roll the locomotives to the track.”

“Progress Rail initially chose our service for its frequency,” says Gonzalez.“Our weekly sailings made potential production delays far less costly, as missing a sailing just meant there would be another one the following week, enabling them to avoid high detention and storage costs. Ultimately, we were also able to add value with our customised RoRo solution.”

Progress Rail Services Corporation (Progress Rail), a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., is a leading supplier of remanufactured locomotive and railcar products and services to the railroad industry, operating one of the most extensive rail service and supply networks in North America. More than 8,000 employees serve customers in a network of more than 165 locations across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. Progress Rail is headquartered in Albertville, Atlanta. For more information, visit

By May 2014, WWL will have transported a total of 17 locomotives from the US to Australia in five separate shipments. For this assignment, WWL adjusted its 100-tonne rolltrailers, fitting them with extra steel to handle the locomotives, each of which weighs 107 tonnes with the bogie attached. In total, eight rolltrailers have been re-modelled, enabling WWL to deliver a complete, customised solution that complies with the customer’s demand not to detach the bogies prior to shipping – allowing the locomotives to be rolled onto the vessel in Georgia and rolled off again in Tasmania.