New rail ferry completes first U.S.-Mexico round trip

Written by Nick Blenkey
Cherokee loaded seen from air

The Cherokee departed the Port of Mobile, September 12, hauling 122 railcars, returned September 21 with 130 onboard,

CG Railway, LLC (CGR), a joint venture between Genesee & Wyoming Inc. and SEACOR Holdings Inc., today announced that its new, state-of-the-art rail ferry, the Cherokee, completed its maiden round-trip voyage with record results for transportation speed and railcar volumes. As the Cherokee completed that trip, its sister vessel, Mayan, completed its delivery voyage from China’s CSSC Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding Company.

The Cherokee departed the Port of Mobile, Ala., on September 12, 2021, hauling 122 railcars and arrived at the Port of Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz, Mexico, on September 15, 2021. The vessel began its return trip from Coatzacoalcos on September 18, 2021, with 130 railcars onboard and docked in Mobile three days later.

The Cherokee measures 590 feet in length and is designed to carry up to 135 railcars, a 17% capacity increase per sailing compared to CGR’s previous rail ferries.

Sister ferry Mayan has completed its delivery voyage from Chinese shipyard.

“We are extremely pleased with the Cherokee’s performance during its maiden voyage,” said Todd Biscan, CGR vice president of sales and marketing. “The rail ferry transported more than 22,500 tons of diverse commodities, including chemicals, plastics, pulp and paper, agricultural products and food. CGR is excited to enhance service quality to customers and safely move railcars from the U.S. to Southern Mexico in three days with customs cleared en route.”

The second new rail ferry, the Mayan, is expected to enter into service in December and replace CGR’s existing vessel, the Banda Sea. Until then, the Banda Sea will continue to operate alongside the Cherokee to provide steady service to customers.

“Offering greater capacity and more sailings per week between the Southeast U.S. and Mexico, CGR service is better than ever,” said CGR President Hoffman Lijeron. “In addition, both the Cherokee and Mayan will generate lower CO2 emissions than land alternatives and our legacy ferries. These collective benefits provide a long-term, sustainable supply chain solution for existing and prospective customers.”

Established in 2000, CG Railway operates as a U.S. Class III freight railroad that currently transports approximately 10,000 carloads of diversified commodities annually across the Gulf of Mexico, with long-term agreements to operate purpose-built rail-ferry terminals in the ports of Mobile, Alabama, and Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz in Mexico. Genesee & Wyoming Inc. and SEACOR Holdings Inc. formed the rail-ferry joint venture that includes CG Railway, LLC in 2017, combining the two companies’ experience in rail and marine transportation.

Raul ferry fully loaded
The Cherokee measures 590 feet in length and is designed to carry up to 135 railcars,
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