Gene Garza, a Senior Advisor for CT Strategies and former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Director of Field Operations in Laredo, Texas, was interviewed by Laredo news channel KGNS, about an industry-government collaboration effort that has increased security, while decreasing train delays at the Laredo/Nuevo Laredo border crossing. The single-track bridge is the highest volume rail crossing on the U.S.-Mexico border and therefore any stoppages or delays add up to impact trade in the region. The ‘Secure Corridor Project,’ which is the result of a partnership between Kansas City Southern (KCS) Railroad, Union Pacific, CBP, and Mexico Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT), is aimed at making the processing of cargo on the bridge more efficient and secure.
Recently, KCS has advanced the certification of international crews, a key component of the Secure Corridor, allowing U.S.-certified crew members to operate trains a short distance between rail yards on either side of the border where they can switch out with other crew members without causing delay on the bridge. In the past, all trains crossing the bridge in either direction had to stop on the middle of the bridge to change between U.S. and Mexican crews. Trains with international crews began operating in July 2018 and have seen decreased train processing times. The introduction of international crews has not reduced hours for U.S. crews and furthermore, the flow of additional trains should ultimately create more jobs.
Another key component of Secure Corridor was the implementation of Unified Cargo Processing (UCP) for Laredo rail, which eliminates redundant scanning of northbound trains by both SAT and CBP, and consolidates non-intrusive inspection (NII) scanning on the U.S. side of the bridge. The UCP operation and new SAT facility were predominantly funded by KCS.
KCS is also investing in upgraded NII-related technologies that will make the scanning and processing of trains even more efficient and secure for CBP and SAT.
Reducing traffic and delays on the bridge has provided greater opportunities for trade as more trains are able to cross. It has also increased security as there is less opportunities for vandalism or tampering with stopped trains. From a local perspective, the towns of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo will benefit as well with less stoppage of cars at rail crossings.