Governor Deal, centre left, is joined at the rail yard by CIS president Jonathan Lafevers, Georgia Rep. Buddy Harden, KMMG chief administrative officer Stuart Countess, Georgia Ports Authority Board chairman Jimmy Allgood, and GPA executive director Griff Lynch

Kia Motors America is moving the shipment of inbound parts through the port of Savannah from road to rail following a partnership signed with Cordele Intermodal Services (CIS).

Up to 30,000 TEU containers will move by rail from the port on a 290km route to the inland terminal in Cordele, which is operated by CIS in conjunction with the Georgia Ports Authority. From the terminal the containers will be delivered last mile by truck to the Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia plant at West Point.

The GPA said the switch to rail to the hinterland would save more than 6m truck journeys a year.

"Cargo can be loaded onto trains, moving hundreds of containers in a single trip, staged at an intermodal yard, then trucked for much shorter distances," said GPA executive director, Griff Lynch. "This model drives out waste and redundancy in the supply chain, delivering greater efficiency for customers and environmental benefits through reduced diesel consumption."

There is a direct cost saving to the importer," said CIS president Jonathan Lafevers. "Furthermore, storage and handling fees are reduced or completely eliminated by utilising Cordele as the origin and destination location for the containers."

Cordele Inland Terminal is served by short line rail providers and currently operates on 16 hectares of land with an option to expand on additional available land nearby. Service areas include southwest Georgia, southern Alabama and western Florida.

Cordele is the official container yard for shipping lines Maersk, NYK, CMA-CGM, MSC and ZIM.

In related news, last month the GPA, working with the state of Georgia, approved $19.7m to fund the state's second inland terminal – the Appalachian Regional Port in Murray County.