The first newbuild rail barge in years is ready to work in New York Harbor, with the launch this week of the 370’x59’x14’ car float by Metal Trades, Inc., Yonges Island, S.C.

The first of two barges contracted by New York New Jersey Rail LLC can carry up to 18 rail cars of 60’ length, carrying up to 2,298 long tons of cargo between the Greenville Yard in Jersey City, N.J., and the 65th Street Yard in Brooklyn, N.Y.

NYNJR is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as a short-line railroad and last vestige of what once was a thriving cross-harbor rail barge industry.

When rail freight moved through the heart of New York City, barges moved the cars between switch yards in the city and New Jersey. That went away with the consolidation of rail, growth of the trucking industry and mid-20th century bridges and tunnels.

The new barge can carry up to 18 rail cars 60' long. Metal Trades photo.

The new barge can carry up to 18 rail cars 60' long. Metal Trades photo.

But the Port Authority is reviving cross-harbor rail and container barge movements, as a way to ease truck traffic and air pollution in communities around the port. The Metal Trades barges are a step toward that modernization, by doubling existing car float barge capacity, and replacing old locomotives with low-emission Tier 4-compliant engines.

Some of the funding comes from the Federal Highway Administration, because the four-mile, 45-minute float across the harbor can replace the need for dozens of tractor trailer loads on regional highways.

Metal Trades will deliver the first barge next week. It is big accomplishment for the 55-year-old company that specializes in government and commercial ship repair, specialty barge and marine construction, and heavy steel fabrication.

“The launch of this vessel is a very proud moment for Metal Trades, Inc. It highlights not only our capability as a builder, but it also showcases how far we have come in the last ten years with upgrades to our facility and marine railway,” company president Shaun Flynn said in announcing the launch. “We are very honored and excited to have the opportunity to support the Port Authority on this procurement.”


Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.